Probation Violations

When a defendant is being sentenced for a either a misdemeanor or a felony crime, the Los Angeles County criminal court judge has the option of ordering a probation term, which is a way for the state to rehabilitate criminals instead of punishment. When an individual is granted probation, they can be ordered to comply with a long list of seemingly impossible tasks. Typical terms of probation for misdemeanor and felony cases will include fines, restitution, community service, counseling classes, A/A meetings, stay-away orders, no unlawful conduct, and progress reviews in your criminal court. The courts will monitor compliance by either formal or summary probation. Unfortunately, these orders occasionally result in that individual being accused of a probation violation. If you violate your probation, it means you have broken the terms of your probation. The legal consequences of violating your probation will depend on a variety of factors and if you have a prior violation.  If a probation violation is proved, the judge can decide to sentence you to the entire prison term possible for the underlying felony offense. That is why it is important for anyone charged with a probation violation to hire a highly experienced Los Angeles criminal defense attorney. If you have been accused of a probation violation, call The Goldstein Law Group today to review the specific details of your alleged violation and to discuss legal options.

In the state of California, there are two types of probation, informal probation and formal probation. Under California Penal Code Section 1203, a judge can grant probation instead of jail time. In other words, probation is an option to avoid jail. The goal is rehabilitation without incarceration. It’s considered a privilege, not a legal right. If the judge grants probation, there are expectations that you will comply with the terms set by the court, which are different based on the type of probation discussed below

Informal Probation

Information probation is commonly known as summary or misdemeanor probation, which includes convictions for misdemeanor crimes, including the very common DUI or domestic violence cases. The term of informal probation can be less than one year or up to five years. During your time on information probation, you will not be required to report to a probation officer. The Los Angeles County judge has wide discretion on imposing the specific terms of your probation that deem appropriate. The conditions set by the court can include paying restitution and completing drug classes. Common conditions of misdemeanor probation include:

  • You pay court order fines or restitution to the victim
  • You complete community service hours or Caltrans work
  • You seek gainful employment
  • You abstain from using drugs or drinking alcohol
  • You participate in individual or group counseling
  • You can’t commit a new crime, excluding traffic violations

As stated above, the main goal of informal probation is rehabilitation. Any type of violation during your probation term will be used against you in court.

Formal Probation

Formal probation is commonly known as felony probation and applies to the more serious convictions. The term for formal probation is also up to five years, but during this time, you will be required to report to a Los Angeles County probation officer. Typically, you will have to report once per month, but the judge will determine exactly how often at sentencing. Your assigned probation officer will be responsible for giving you regular drug tests and keeping up with where you are living while on probation. The legal consequences for violating the terms of your formal probation are frequently harsh and will include time in a California state prison. There is a wide range of ways to violate the terms of you probation, including committing a new crime, failing a drug test, failure to pay fines or restitution, or failing to complete court ordered classes. If you are granted felony probation, there will be specific conditions you must follow. These probation conditions include:

  • You can’t violate any laws by committing a new crime
  • You can’t associate with known drug users or gangs
  • You must submit to drug or alcohol testing
  • You must complete court ordered community service hours
  • You must pay court ordered fines or restitution
  • You must complete court ordered classes, such as drugs or alcohol
  • You can’t leave Los Angeles County without permission
  • You must submit to searches without a warrant

If you believe you are facing a probation violation, you need to consult with a Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer at our law firm immediately. We can assist you through the probation violation hearing and attempt to persuade the court to not impose any additional charges.

Probation Violation Hearing

If your Los Angeles County criminal court believes you violated the terms of probation, the court will schedule a probation violation hearing, which is commonly known as a probation revocation hearing. It’s similar to a trial as it will have witnesses and evidence presented during the hearing, and you have the right to have legal representation. There is no jury who determines guilt or innocence, rather the judge will decide if you violated the terms of your probation. It’s important to note that unlike a criminal case, the Los Angeles county prosecutor doesn’t have to prove your case beyond any reasonable doubt. They can prove your violation by just a “preponderance of the evidence,” meaning that it’s only 51% likely you violated probation. As you can see, the standard of proof is much lower, meaning it’s critical to be represented by an experienced criminal defense lawyer.

If the judge determines you violated the terms of your felony probation, they have options. They can revoke your probation and sentence you to California state prison for the maximum time of your original felony offense. The judge could also revoke and reinstate your probation, but with new probation terms that will typically include at least some time in the county jail and extension of the length of probation. Another option includes ordering you to serve some time in a sober living home or drug rehabilitation facility. Finally, the court also has the option of placing you back on probation with no jail time, but will order additional conditions to follow. It should be noted you will typically have to spend some time in jail if it was determined you violated felony probation.

If you are facing allegations of violating probation, call the experienced Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys at the Goldstein Law Group. We can provide you with skilled legal representation throughout probation violation process. Our lawyers will work aggressively to obtain the best possible outcome at your hearing. The first step is to review the specific details of your violation so we can prepare an effective strategy. Contact our law firm at 323-461-2000.