For many, probation is a welcoming alternative compared to jail or prison time. However, being placed on probation does not mean that you are completely free from the criminal justice system, or that you have finished serving for your alleged offenses.
It is critical to adhere to all of the conditions set forth by the judge. A probation violation may lead to severe penalties, such as extended probation, costly fines, or even a jail or prison sentence.
In general, a probation violation occurs when you refuse, avoid, ignore, or otherwise breach the conditions or terms of your probation at any time during the probation period. Probation often runs from one to three years, but may also last for more based on the original crime.
The following are the six most common probation violations:
- Failure to report to the probation officer – As one of the terms of your probation, you must report to your probation officer on a consistent basis. In fact, your probation officer is responsible to help you complete the terms of your probation, which means routine check-ins or constant communication. If you miss a scheduled meeting or fail to check in, this is considered a probation violation.
- Miss a court hearing – You may be required to attend further court hearings after a certain period of time in order to review your progress. Failure to attend the scheduled court hearings would be a serious violation of your probation.
- Failure to pay court-related fees and restitution – Probation can seem like a financial trap, especially for individuals with low income. Certain fees must be paid to probation officers, the court, and potentially even the victims of the alleged offense. If you fail to pay the fines and restitution on the payment schedule established by the judge, it is deemed a probation violation.
- Visit certain people or places – One of the terms of your probation could be to stay away from specific people or places associated with criminal activity. For instance, if you were a gang member, you could be prohibited from interacting with other gang affiliates. Additionally, you may not be allowed to travel out of state.
- Use controlled substances – Regular drug or sobriety testing may also be a condition of your probation. If you have even trace amounts of drugs in your system, it could result in facing the judge again.
- Get arrested for another crime – If you are probation and allegedly commit a new criminal offense, a judge will take that into consideration when ruling on your sentence and may subject you to additional penalties.