Do You Automatically Go to Jail for Violating Probation? 

March 31, 2021 Criminal Defense

Probation allows those who plead guilty to or are convicted of crimes to serve all or part of their sentences outside of jail or prison.  Typically probation periods are between twelve and thirty-six months, but probation can last up to several years.  

Defendants are often eager to accept probation as an alternative to jail time, and the state grants probation willingly due to its overcrowded jails and prisons. 

However, probation requires more than simply staying out of trouble for a set period of time, and a violation of probation is a serious charge that can carry severe penalties.  

Not every probation violation results in jail or prison time.  Probation officers have the power to issue a warning for a probation violation or bring the matter before the court for a hearing.  At a probation violation hearing, a judge may:

  • Revoke a defendant’s probation;
  • Dismiss the new probation violation charges; 
  • Add additional time and stipulations to a defendant’s current probation;
  • Add additional sentence time to the defendant’s current jail or prison sentence.   

Common Terms of Probation and Violations 

Probation violations happen every day, despite a defendant’s best intentions and efforts.  This is due in part to the number of mandates placed on a defendant when on probation.  

Standard terms of probation include:

  • Not possessing a firearm of any kind;
  • Securing and keeping gainful employment;
  • Attending school;
  • Adhering to a curfew;
  • Remaining at a particular residence;
  • Not traveling out of state;
  • No contact with past associates;
  • No use or possession of alcohol;
  • Wearing an electronic tag or monitor;
  • Alcohol and/or drug testing;
  • Alcohol and/or psychological treatment; and
  • Community service.

Of the above probation mandates, some of the most common probation violations are the following:

  • The inability to find work or attend school due to an arrest record;
  • Eviction;
  • Loss of employment due to layoffs;
  • Unknowingly befriending someone with a criminal record;
  • Being unaware of friends or family members who possess weapons in your presence; and
  • Certain foods and medications may create a false positive on a drug test.

The Probation Violation Hearing 

Regardless of the reason behind a probation violation, probation officers have broad discretion over any consequences.  It is a probation officer’s choice to issue a warning about a violation or require a court appearance and probation violation hearing.  The probation officer considers the following factors when making their decision:

  • The severity of the violation;
  • The type of violation;
  • Any history of probation violations;
  • Past warnings; and
  • Other considerations he or she deems appropriate.

If the probation violation does go before the court, a judge will review all of the facts and circumstances surrounding the violation before making a ruling.  This includes examining the following:

  • The original crime;
  • The defendant’s criminal history;
  • The type of probation violation; and
  • Any input from the probation officer.

If you violate your probation and are worried about the consequences, do not wait to retain an experienced Arizona criminal law attorney.  Your attorney will assess your situation to determine your best available legal options.  

Put your mind at ease by speaking with an accomplished Phoenix Probation Revocation Attorney, like those at Younglove Law Firm today.  We work tirelessly to protect our client’s legal rights to freedom and justice.  We handle cases in federal, state, municipal, and appellate courts throughout the greater Phoenix metropolitan area and all of Arizona.   

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