Monday, July 18, 2011

Minnesota Probation Violations (Explained)

Probation violations are particularly serious situations - and could lead to greater consequences than the initial sentencing imposed by the court. Really?

How Does This Work?

Generally speaking, after you've been sentenced by a judge, you can be summoned  back into court (or arrested for as much) to answer an allegation that you've violated a term of that sentence. The initial inquiry will then be whether you admit or deny the allegation.  In such cases, especially if you are unaware of the consequences the government would be seeking if you admitted and/or are found to have violated your probation, you should probably enter a denial and evoke your right to a hearing and (if you haven't already done so) contact a Minnesota Criminal Defense Attorney to assist you in your defense. 

As with my earlier admonition that just because you've been charged with or cited for an offense it does not automatically mean that you will automatically be found guilty of it - the same goes for an allegation that you've violated your probation. 

The Hearing

If you deny the allegation you will be afforded a hearing to put forth your case (and/or possibly negotiate a favorable outcome with the government.)  Unlike with the initial inquiry, which was most interested in whether you actually committed the underlying crime for which your were sentenced, the only relevant issue at a Probation Violation Hearing is whether or not you violated a general or special condition imposed by the judge at the original sentencing. As such, the government is only tasked with presenting evidence that you violated the terms of your probation - by doing (or not doing) something you were ordered to.  

If you are found to have violated the terms of your probation - the worst case outcome is that the judge could seek to revoke your probation and cause you to serve any unexecuted portion of the sentence originally imposed. However, the judge also has the discretion to stay the revocation of your probation -but in turn he will likely order you to comply with some new conditions and suffer some new consequences.

What Should You Do

The consequences you could be facing - when it comes to a probation violation - can be quite steep. As an example, let's say you plead guilty to a Drunk Driving and received a sentence of a year in jail; however, instead of that full year, the judge only imposed a small amount of that time (say 30 days) staying and/or suspending the other 335 days on certain terms and conditions. Then, it is alleged that you failed to fully comply with those terms. If that is ultimately found to be true - by the judge, you could be (worst case scenario) ordered to serve the 335 days originally held over your head. 

For these reasons it is absolutely imperative that if you are charged with violating probation that you have an experienced and knowledgeable Minnesota Probation Violation Attorney on their side - to work with the government to ensure that that worst case scenario does not come into being.  Often, something can be worked out to preserve your original deal and/or lessen the ultimate consequence you might face if the violation is proven.  Therefore, if you're being summoned into court to answer for such a violation - talk to a pro who can make the right case for you.

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