If you are accused of violating the terms of your probation in Chester County, PA, you need a strong defense to stay out of prison. It is always crucial that you follow the terms of your probation, but if you violated in some way, or are falsely accused of violating your probation, you need to put up a strong fight. If you are charged with a violation probation, or believe your probation officer will soon file for a violation, you need to take immediate steps to protect yourself.
If you or someone you care about has been charged with violating your probation in West Chester, PA or the Chester County area, experienced probation attorney Joseph D. Lento is here to help.
West Chester/Chester County Violation of Probation Attorney
With nearly two decades of experience working in various roles in the Pennsylvania justice system, Joseph Lento is a qualified West Chester criminal defense attorney with a comprehensive knowledge of how a criminal case operates from start to finish, and beyond.
If you have been charged with a violation of probation in Chester County, Pennsylvania and need a comprehensive, customized defense, contact the Lento Law Firm. Joseph Lento built his practice on the ideals of customer service and justice and he will fight for your rights and freedom. Call (888) 535-3686 today to schedule your consultation and discover what Joseph Lento can do to clear your name.
Chester County Court Process
If you are arrested or have been summoned for a violation of probation case, the case will be scheduled for a formal hearing at the Chester County Justice Center located at:
201 West Market Street
West Chester, PA 19380
Violation of Probation
Pennsylvania law governs probation violations in 234 Pa. Code Rule 708. These violations typically take one of two forms: technical violations and substantive violations. The difference between a technical and a substantive violation can sometimes be difficult to determine, but the difference can be very important in how your case will be affected.
A technical violation is a failure by the person on probation to comply with one of the conditions imposed upon him or her by the court. These are the most common, and can easily be accidental or inadvertent. This is not technically an excuse, but Courts can be more forgiving when presented with the right legal defense. An experienced attorney can help.
A substantive violation occurs when there is any violation of:
- a court order
- municipal ordinance
- county or state law
- federal law
during the time a person is on probation. These types of violations can be treated much more seriously. Not only will you face the possible penalties associated with your new charge, but you could face penalties related to your probation violation as well.
Examples of Probation Violations in Chester County
Most probation violations are technical, because violations of the court order are the most typically violated. Every person's conditions can be different, so it is crucial to know your specific requirements.
Common violations include:
- Changing your address without permission of your probation officer
- Consuming an alcoholic beverage
- Failing to report to your probation officer as mandated by your probation officer
- Failure to complete required community service hours in the time required
- Failure to report to your probation officer as mandated by the court
- Failure to pay fines, costs, and restitution as ordered by the court
- Leaving the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania without your probation officer's permission
- Changing your employment without your probation officer's permission
- Using, possessing, or selling any controlled substance
- Possessing any firearm, ammunition, or other deadly weapon
- Failure to successfully complete treatment programs ordered by the court, such as
- Anger management classes
- Domestic batterers intervention program
- Father's group counseling
- Alcohol safe driving program
- Drug or alcohol evaluation and treatment
- Sex offender program
- Mental health treatment
Probation Violation Process
The first stage of the probation violation process is the Gagnon I Hearing. This commonly referred to as the "detainer hearing." These hearings determine if there is sufficient probable cause to justify violation allegations against you. At this same time it will be determined whether or not you will be detained between then and your second hearing. A designated hearing officer hears the case at this stage, and makes the decision. An attorney is permitted and encouraged at this stage, as it can all end there when possible.
The second stage is called the Gagnon II hearing, or the "VOP hearing." This is the final probation hearing process is your last chance to defend yourself against probation violation claims. The judge presides over this hearing, and the prosecutor will present evidence against you. This hearing proceeds more similarly to a criminal trial, but has a lower "preponderance of the evidence" standard used to prove the charges against you. this is much lower than the "beyond a reasonable doubt" standard in an actual criminal trial
It is crucial that you have a highly experienced attorney at both proceedings, or your rights will be unprotected. There are defenses to probation violations, and many can be worked out with proper explanation and negotiation.
West Chester Probation Violation Defense Lawyer
If you have been accused of a probation violation in the West Chester or Chester County area, it is highly recommended that you begin defending your rights and your future with as soon as possible. Joseph Lento is passionate about helping probation violation charges like yours through the system and making sure justice is served on all sides.
For your consultation on how Joseph Lento and the team at Lento Law Firm can help you, call (888) 535-3686 today.