Probation Violations (VOP)

According to Michigan law, probation is not a right, but a privilege. It is a “form of leniency” that allows a convicted criminal to remain in (or re-enter) society. A defendant may be sentenced only to probation or probation may be granted after some jail time has been completed. Defendants placed on probation are supervised by a probation officer.

Because probation is a form of leniency, it can be revoked at any time. Revocation usually occurs if the defendant has violated the terms of the probation as set forth by the judge. If it appears to the sentencing court that a probationer is likely to engage again in an offensive or criminal course of conduct during the period of probation, the court may revoke probation. In addition, probation can be modified in any manner the court considers appropriate.

There are several ways in which you can violate the conditions of your probation. Some of the most common ways to violate probation are the following:

  • Failing to pay fines or restitution
  • Failing a drug or alcohol test (“dropping dirty”)
  • Being arrested for a new crime
  • Missing an appointment with your probation officer
  • Changing your residence without notification to your probation agent
  • Failing to complete a court-ordered program
  • Failure to appear at a scheduled court appointment
  • Leaving the state without the permission of your probation agent
  • Failing to maintain school or employment

If you are suspected of violating your probation, you may receive a notice of violation or revocation hearing. At a probation violation hearing, the court will determine whether the violation occurred as charged. At the probation violation hearing, it is not necessary that you be proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Instead, the burden of proof is much lower; it must be proven only by a preponderance of the evidence that you violated the terms of your probation. That decision is made by the judge and you have no right to a jury trial in a probation violation hearing. If you receive notice of such a hearing, or even if you just think you may have violated your probation but have not yet been suspected or accused of it, you should quickly contact a knowledgeable, experienced probation violation defense attorney at Kizy Law.

Consequences of Probation Violations

If the court finds you guilty of violating your probation, it can take any of the following steps:

Continue the probation without punishment for the violation. This outcome, obviously preferred from the defendant’s standpoint, is most likely when the violation of the probation has been very minor or perhaps a technical violation. In these situations, the court or your probation officer may choose to merely give you a warning.

Modify the conditions of the probation, or extend the period of probation. If the probation violation is a bit more serious, your probation officer can ask the court to modify the conditions of your probation to require more meetings, counseling or community service, or to impose more restrictions on your freedom. Many such modifications must be approved by a judge.

Revoke the probation and sentence the defendant on the underlying offense. Your probation officer can request an arrest warrant and you will be called before a judge. If your probation is revoked, the court may sentence you as if probation had never been granted. This basically means that your original sentence would be reactivated and you could possibly serve jail time.

Our Defense of Probation Violations
At a probation violation hearing, finding a violation of your probation has to be based only a “preponderance of the evidence” (which means it is more likely than not) that the probation violation occurred, rather than the stricter “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard for a criminal proceeding. Since the burden of proof is much lower at one of these probation violation hearings than at a criminal trial, it is very important that you be represented by skilled counsel.

Call us today at 248-662-5499 for your free consultation.