When you are put on probation, you must abide by a number of court-ordered terms for the duration of your probation period, and you must not break the law again. When it is alleged that you have failed to meet these conditions, these mishaps are legally referred to as probation violations. Probation violations generally fall within one of two categories: technical and direct violations.
Technical violations occur when a defendant doesn't comply with the terms of probation. For example, leaving the state without permission, using drugs and alcohol, or failing to complete community service hours. Direct violations occur when a defendant is convicted of a new offense. A violation considered most serious by the court. Regardless of the nature of the violation, being in this situation exposes you to grave consequences.
Upon notification of a potential violation, the courts will order you to attend several hearings. The first one must take place within 10 days of a violation. Typically, this hearing is informal and is held before a magistrate or commissioner instead of a judge. Prior notice of this hearing isn't required, which means that most defendants aren't given the time to seek representation. As a result, defendants with direct violations or egregious technical violations find themselves back in jail due to a detainer - an order that prohibits defendants from posting bail or being released from custody until charges are resolved.
From here on a second hearing will be scheduled within 30 days. During this hearing, the judge is tasked with two objectives. First, they will decide if there was an actual violation of probation by either technical violation or direct violation. If so, then the judge must decide what consequences should be imposed.
At this point, retaining an attorney is a must. An attorney can file a motion to lift a detainer so that you can face a potential violation and/or new criminal charges outside of a jail cell. A legal professional can also contest the validation of the violation, or present a case that suggests that incarceration isn't a viable sentence for you. In doing so, your representation may get family members to appear in court to support you, or present evidence that you were productive and making contributions to society during the probation period. This hearing is also an opportunity for you to respond to your allegations. An attorney can help you prepare an effective statement to present before the judge.
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.