There is nothing more disconcerting or terrifying in some cases than when a person who has been serving a period of probation is advised that his Probation Officer has decided to file a “Violation of Probation.” (Some counties have a FAQ section on their County website which can be helpful for the person first placed on probation. Hamilton and Marion County are no exception – familiarize yourself with these from the outset to avoid some simple complications.)
Most Courts will tell a person at the time of the hearing on the Defendant’s Plea Agreement, or after the finding of guilt by a Judge or by a Jury…. “Mr. Jones, I consider probation to be a privilege. It will be your second chance, as I consider your being convicted your first chance. You will not want to see me again if you violate probation, and I consider even minor violations…a violation.”
Those words often ring vividly through the probationeer’s ears particularly on the date of his or her sentencing….but they are coming back in a gonging fashion now that the P.O. has told them they are facing the Judge on a violation.
Depending on the offense for which the person was placed on probation, the prior criminal history of the Defendant, and whether this is the first violation or beyond, there can be very punitive consequences. Typically the Defendant is facing specific consequences the Court may choose to impose, an extension or modification of probation if the Court sees fit, ordering some portion of the jail time that was suspended at sentencing, or the full back up time that was suspended at the time of sentencing imposed at the Indiana Department of Corrections.
So often the violations are for ‘dilute’ or for ‘dirty’ urine screens indicating the presence of something in the system the probationeer would love to have a mulligan on. Or for not completing anger control classes or counseling on a wide variety of other topics.
The standard for proving these violations is simply ‘by a preponderance of the evidence’ – not beyond a reasonable doubt – and most judges do not adhere to strict rules of evidence on such violation…i.e. hearsay is often admissible (depending on your judge).
The decision to revoke probation lies in the sole discretion of the trial court, and that judge’s decision on appeal can only be overturned if there is an ‘abuse of discretion’, a very difficult standard to overcome.
You may sit in jail on a ‘no bond’ hold on such violations until the matter is heard by the Court, or, if the probation officer requests, you can be ‘summons’ instead of by warrant.
As a general rule, these are not matters to face on your own. Admitting to guilt on these violations without the assistance of counsel can be one of the more painful (and truly ill-advised) decisions you can make. Competent counsel on these situations can explain your circumstances and the Court is much more likely to take the time to listen to what was actually going on with you at the time of these alleged shortcomings on probation.
The consequences are often too severe to take these lightly. We have represented thousands over the years on PROBATION VIOLATIONS throughout the State of Indiana. We have developed numerous resources, professional treatment providers and hospitals as well as lay counselors and therapists, to help assist those who are having a challenging time meeting the obligations of probation.
It is not an easy task to make it through probation at times. Most Judges want to listen to your attempts, and believe it or not, most of them want to see you make it through successfully. It is our job to help you do that and explain wherever possible how you can still accomplish that goal.