Here is one of those questions we get at least once a week: "what happens if I violate my probation agreement?"  The answer depends on how big a mess you have made of probation and the relationship you have with the probation officer. Your probation officer could decide to tighten the reins a bit – and more closely monitor you. He or she might require that you do additional counseling or change your curfew time. A probation violation could result in your probation officer imposing discretionary jail time if the court granted that as a condition of probation. It is also possible that he or she might not do anything more than talk to you about the violation – and give you a break.

But you could also end up with a probation violation being charged by the State against you in the underlying case, and that could result in imposition of the suspended portion of your sentence. Assume that you were placed on supervised misdemeanor probation for two years, and that you agreed to not violate the law during that time. If you get a DUI or a simple battery charge, the prosecutor could file a probation violation charge in addition to the new crime. If you were to admit the violation or if you were found to have violated the probation agreement, you might end up with jail time on the first crime and the new crime.

Bottom line – a probation violation can mean a world of hurt. If you promised to stay clean and sober – do so. Stay out of trouble with your probation officer and live up to your agreement. Whether it is a felony or misdemeanor probation, you hold the keys to your freedom. Follow the agreement and you stay out of jail or even worse – prison.

As I write this I have a client facing prison for his probation violations. He said something to me that I had missed – he said he would rather have the possibility of a return to probation and the eventual chance to have the crime reduced to a misdemeanor on the successful completion of probation. If you go to prison, that will not happen. That opportunity for a change in the nature of the crime from felony to misdemeanor requires successful completion of probation. The trouble is, by the time you realize what you may have given up – it is may be too late. A probation violation can mean another stint behind bars and another "strike" against you when it comes to employment and opportunity.

Charged with a probation violation? Give us a call and tell us about your situation. Maybe we can help.