Many of those who are convicted of a felony or a misdemeanor are placed on probation for a specified period of time. While on probation, the defendant is expected to remain law abiding and also to comply with the requirements of probation and whatever deadlines that the Court has established. Committing a new criminal offense or failing to complete one or more of the terms of probation can result in the Court issuing a probation violation. In these cases, the judge may revoke the defendant’s grant of probation and the defendant could potentially be sent to jail or prison.
When a person is convicted of a misdemeanor offense he or she will usually be placed on summary probation to the Court. This means that the defendant will not have a probation officer but will be provided deadlines to complete whatever court requirements have been imposed. Those convicted of felonies and placed on felony probation usually will have their probation monitored by the County Probation Department.
There may be a number of requirements that the defendant is expected to adhere to. These can include paying mandatory court fines and fees, completing jail sentences, attending counseling sessions, attending education programs, completing community service or community labor hours and paying restitution to the victim. The defendant would also be expected to not commit any new crime and to stay away from any person or place as ordered by the Court at the time of sentencing.
When a defendant is accused of violating a term of his or her probation, the Court will usually issue a warrant for the defendant’s arrest. The defendant can have a hearing regarding the probation violation and is entitled to certain rights at this hearing. These include the right to be represented by counsel, the right to call witnesses and present evidence, the right to use the subpoena power of the court to compel witnesses or obtain evidence, the right to testify or remain silent, the right to present a defense and the right to have evidence of the violation disclosed in advance.
One of the key differences between a probation violation hearing and a criminal trial is that a defendant is not entitled to a jury for a probation violation. Instead, the judge would preside over the hearing and ultimately determine if the defendant is in violation of probation. The burden of proof is lower for probation violation hearings than it is for criminal trials. At a probation violation hearing, the prosecutor must only prove that the defendant violated probation by the “preponderance of the evidence standard” showing it was more likely than not that the defendant violated probation. In addition, the Court is able to rely on hearsay evidence in probation violation hearings to a greater extent than in criminal trials.
After the probation violation hearing, the judge will determine whether or not a violation has occurred. If the defendant is found to have violated probation, the judge can reinstate probation on the same terms and conditions, can modify the terms of probation and add requirements or jail time or the judge can revoke probation entirely and require that the defendant serve the remainder of the jail or prison sentence.
There are certain times when a defendant’s probation violation may not result in additional penalties being assessed. Courts have found that a defendant cannot be jailed if they are financially unable to pay court fines or to pay victim restitution. Most courts give defendants the option of completing community service or community labor in lieu of a fine. For restitution cases, a defendant can only be penalized if there was a willful failure to pay. The Court may hold an ability to pay hearing to analyze the defendant’s financial situation. The Court may ultimately adjust the defendant’s restitution payment schedule or extend the probation period to ensure that restitution is fully paid off. Alternately, the Court may convert the restitution to a civil judgement against the defendant that the victim could then enforce once probation has terminated.
If you or a loved one are facing a probation violation, it is critical that you speak with a Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney right away. Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer Michael Kraut is a former Deputy District Attorney with over 14 years of prosecutorial experience who is adept at representing clients who have been accused of violating probation. Mr. Kraut is highly respected by judges and prosecutors and can help his clients avoid excessive penalties.
For more information about Los Angeles probation violations, contact Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney Michael Kraut at the Kraut Law Group located at 6255 Sunset Boulevard, Suite 1520, Los Angeles, CA 90028. Mr. Kraut can be reached 24/7 at 888-334-6344 or 323-464-6453.