Just because probation is a less severe sentence than incarceration, doesn't mean that it isn't a pain. Between binding conditions, overzealous probation officers, and overall living a life under a magnifying glass, it seems as if you've been set up to fail. And if there's even an inclination from your officer that you've violated probation, things are bound to get even worse. In Philadelphia, probation officers have the discretion to decide when to request a court hearing for a suspected violation. This means, that if your probation officer is more lenient than you'll likely get warnings prior to a hearing request. But stricter officers, however, won't hesitate to request a hearing if there is suspicion.
A hearing is intended to ultimately determine if there was a violation and, if so, what the appropriate punishment should be. If you've been accused of violating your probation, you need to adequately prepare. If it is determined that there was an actual violation, you could be sent to prison for the remainder of your probation period or given a much harsher sentence. In this article, we'll discuss what occurs during this hearing and how you can prepare.
When the court is notified of an alleged violation, they will order you to attend several hearings. The initial hearing is scheduled almost immediately after they violation was allegedly committed. This hearing is generally informal and is held before a magistrate or commissioner rather than a judge. Because it's scheduled so soon, many defendants may not retain legal counsel in time. But if you can, you should definitely try to, because counsel can help you avoid being issued a detainer - an order that prohibits defendants from being released from custody until the matter is resolved.
Within 30 days of the initial hearing, another hearing is scheduled. This one will be held before a judge. It is intended to accomplish two goals. First, based on the evidence presented, a judge will decide if a violation actually occurred. If so, then the consequences will be imposed. The worst case scenario is that you'll be sent to prison to finish your sentence, or you'll be re-sentenced. In both cases, you'll likely get additional time.
Why You Need An Attorney
Put simply, too much is at stake for you not to retain legal counsel. As mentioned above, an attorney can lift your detainer, so you can handle your charges outside of a jail cell. A legal professional can also challenge the validity of your alleged violation, and present a case that compels the judge to believe that incarceration is not an effective solution in your circumstance. Bottom line, you need an attorney to maximize your chances of success.
Let Me Help You - Philadelphia Criminal Defense Attorney
For Philadelphia defendants facing potential incarceration for a probation violation, the stakes are extremely high. But it is possible to avoid a finding of a violation or imprisonment with the help of an experienced and skilled attorney. Attorney Joseph D. Lento has helped numerous defendants prevail in violation of probation hearings, as well as motions to lift a detainer. His representation has curtailed the consequences of potential violations and helped defendants avoid incarceration by fighting for alternative recommendations. For more information about how he can help you, contact him today by calling 215-535-5353.