In the federal system, probation allows a convicted offender to remain in the community, under a probation officer's direct supervision, instead of going to prison. The terms under which probation is granted vary depending on the underlying offenses and the individual offender, but typically they will require the offender to do the following:
- Regularly report to a probation officer
- Remain within the federal judicial district and not leave it without permission from the probation officer in advance
- Live in a dwelling and location approved by the probation officer
- Allow the probation officer to visit the offender at home or work at any time
- Work full-time at a job approved by the probation officer (or look for work if they do not have a job)
- Not to communicate with anyone engaged in criminal activity or with any felon
- Notify the probation officer if the offender is arrested or questioned by police for any new crimes
- Depending on the underlying offense, participate in specified types of mental health, substance abuse, sexual abuse, or other kinds of medical or mental health treatment
- Pay any restitution amounts or child or spousal support if ordered to do so
- Not to possess any firearm or other type of weapon
- A wide range of other potential requirements, depending on the underlying offense and the offender's background
If you're on federal probation, it is important that you understand and follow the terms of the court order granting the probation. If you violate the conditions of probation, the government can order a hearing to determine whether your probation should be revoked. If it is revoked, you'll be sent to prison.
Probation Violations That Will Get Your Probation Revoked
The federal system sorts probation violations into three groups. Grade A violations are the most serious, and cover any new crime you commit that is punishable by a prison term of one year or longer. These include violent or drug-related crimes and crimes involving a firearm. Grade A violations also apply to any crime punishable by a prison term of more than 20 years.
Grade B violations are considered less serious than Grade A, and involve any federal or state crime with a potential prison term of more than one year.
Your probation officer is required to report all Grade A and B violations to the court that sentenced you. The court will hold a probation revocation hearing; if it finds that a Grade A or B violation occurred, it will revoke your probation and you will most likely go to prison.
Probation Violations That May Get Your Probation Revoked, Extended, or Modified
A Grade C probation violation is the third, and least serious, type of probation violation. A Grade C probation violation occurs if you commit a new crime with a potential prison sentence of one year or less, or if you violate any of the conditions of your probation. In the case of a Grade C violation, your probation officer can operate with some discretion. If the officer determines that the violation is minor, that it's not part of a continuing pattern of violations, and that you do not present a risk to the community, the probation officer can elect not to report the Grade C violation to the court.
If the probation officer does report the Grade C violation to the court, the court will conduct a probation revocation hearing (as it does with Grade A and B violations). If it finds you committed a Grade C violation, the court can revoke your probation, extend the term of your probation, or modify the conditions of your probation.
You Need Representation if You Have Violated a Term of Your Probation
No matter what level of probation violation you are accused of, it is important to have an experienced and dedicated attorney advising you. Joseph Lento and the Lento Law Firm have years of experience handling criminal defense and probation violation cases in state and federal court in Pennsylvania. If you find yourself in the unfortunate position of being accused of a federal probation violation, you will want experienced and able counsel by your side to help you deal with it.
If the court is conducting a hearing because of your probation violation (whether Grade A, B, or C), it will receive evidence supporting the government's contention that you violated the terms of your probation. An experienced attorney from the Lento Law Firm can object if that evidence does not meet the standards required by the criminal procedure rules. If there is helpful evidence that supports your argument that you did not commit the violation, your attorney can introduce that evidence on your behalf.
If the court finds you have committed a Grade A or Grade B violation – which usually means your probation will be revoked – your attorney can present arguments on your behalf in an attempt to minimize your sentence. Similarly, if the court finds you committed a Grade C violation, your attorney can help you argue that your probation should not be revoked, increased, or modified in a way that would make your life even more difficult.
In the case where your probation officer believes you have committed a Grade C violation, your attorney can help you resolve the situation with your officer with the goal of keeping the matter out of court and reducing the effect on the terms of your probation. This is the best result of all: keeping you out of prison and continuing through to a successful completion of your probation term.
Your Federal Probation Violation Lawyer
If you've been charged with a federal probation violation, you need the help of an experienced probation violation defense attorney as soon as possible. Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm have the experience and determination you need to help you with your case. Call Attorney Lento and the Lento Law Firm at 888-535-3686 or reach out through our contact form to learn more about how they can help you defend your case.