Being put on probation means that you must abide by its terms for the entirety of the probation period and that you cannot acquire any new criminal charges. If you fail to meet the standards of the court in any way, it will be cited as a probation violation. Probation violations can potentially fall into one of two categories: technical violations and direct violations.
Technical Violations vs. Direct Violations
Technical violations occur when a defendant doesn't comply with the terms of probation. For example, leaving the state without permission from a probation officer, using drugs and/or alcohol during the probationary period, or not completing community service hours. Direct violations, however, occur when you acquire new criminal charges while on probation. They are generally more serious. But regardless of the nature of a probation violation, it warrants serious consequences in Chester County.
Upon notification of a potential violation, the court will order you to attend multiple hearings. One of them will be scheduled immediately after a violation (approximately within 10 days). This hearing is informal and will be held before a magistrate or commissioner instead of a judge. Because it's scheduled so closely after a violation without prior notice, many people fail to retain legal representation. Consequently, defendants with a direct violation or egregious technical violations may be issued a detainer. A detainer is basically an order that prohibits defendants from posting bail and being released from custody until all impending matters are resolved.
The second hearing will be scheduled within 30 days of the initial hearing. This one is formal and will be held before a judge. Two things will be on the agenda in this hearing. The decision of whether or not a violation actually occurred, and if so, what consequences should be imposed. The worst possible thing that can happen to a defendant is that they are sent back to prison to complete the remainder of their sentence or be resentenced. Either way, defendants can count on getting additional time.
Why You Need An Attorney
This is why retaining an attorney before the process starts is important. An attorney can file a motion to lift or prevent a detainer, so you can face a potential violation and/or new criminal charges from outside of a jail cell. A legal professional will also challenge the validity of your violation, or present a case that convinces the judge that incarceration isn't an effective sentence for you. Attorneys in these situations have been known to pull out all the stops by asking family members to show on behalf of a defendant, or presenting evidence that suggests you are capable of contributing to society.
Hearings also give defendants an opportunity to respond to their allegations. An attorney can help you prepare a solid statement to present before the judge.
Let Me Help You - Chester County Criminal Defense Attorney
For Chester 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.