Once you are put on probation, you must abide by a number of terms ordered by the court for the entirety of your probation period, and you cannot acquire any new criminal charges. Failing to meet these conditions means that you have violated probation. Probation violations fall into one of two categories according to statutory law: technical and direct violations.
Technical Violations vs. Direct Violations
Technical violations occur when a defendant doesn't comply with a term of probation. Using drugs or alcohol, not completing community service hours, and leaving the state without the permission of your probation officer are examples of technical violations. Direct violations, on the other hand, occur when a defendant is convicted of a new offense. They are generally more serious in the eyes of the court. But regardless of the nature of the violation, violating probation in and of itself warrants serious consequences in Bucks County.
Once the court is notified of a potential violation, they will order you to attend several hearings. One will take place almost immediately after a violation (within 10 days). It's informal and will be conducted before a commissioner or magistrate, rather than a judge. Because it is scheduled so closely after a violation without prior notice, defendants are given the time to retain legal representation. Due to this lack of representation, defendants with direct violations or egregious technical violations may be issued a detainer - an order that prohibits defendants from being released from custody until charges are resolved.
Within 30 days of the initial hearing, a second hearing will be scheduled. This one is much more formal and will be held before a judge. Two elements of your case will be decided in this hearing. First, based on the evidence, a judge will decide if there was an actual violation of probation of the technical or direct nature. If so, then the judge will decide what consequences must be imposed. In worst case scenarios, a person can be sent to prison to complete the remained of their sentence or be re-sentenced. In both cases, defendants are likely to get additional time.
Why You Need An Attorney
This is why retaining an attorney in these circumstances is vital. An attorney can file a motion to lift a detainer, so you can face a potential violation and/or new criminal charges outside of a jail cell. A legal professional can also challenge the validity of an alleged violation, or present a case that suggests incarceration isn't the most effective sentence for you. Attorneys have been known to pull out all the stops by getting family members to appear in court, or present evidence that suggests you were a productive citizen while you were on probation.
In a hearing, you can also respond to allegations. An attorney can help you prepare a convincing statement to present before the judge.
Let Me Help You - Bucks County Criminal Defense Attorney
For Bucks County 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.