Receiving probation rather than a jail sentence is usually considered a pretty good outcome of your criminal case. However, probation is not the equivalent of a “get out of jail free” card. It comes with many conditions that you must follow, meetings you must attend, and required appointments with your probation officer. If you violate any of these conditions in even the slightest way, you can end up facing a probation violation and the related consequences.
At the Law Offices of Randolph Rice, our knowledgeable Baltimore probation violation defense lawyers know how to protect your rights when you are faced with a probation violation. We will work to mitigate the damage and fight so that you do not face any of the harshest possible penalties that probation violations can bring with them. If you have been accused of violating probation, call us today at (410) 694-7291 for a free consultation.
When Judges Use Probation in Baltimore
Probation is often used as a sentencing tool by judges when they do not wish to see the defendant spend time in prison, but still want to see them undergo some sort of supervision to ensure they do not continue making bad choices. Usually, probation will come with a suspended sentence. This means that there will be a set amount of jail time awaiting you if you commit a violation and revocation of your probation results.
The requirements that come with each person’s probation are individually tailored to that person, the issues they face, and the crime they committed. There are some conditions that come with all probation sentences, however. First, you cannot commit any other violation of the law while on probation. This includes violating any no-contact or protective orders issued against you as a result of this or prior court cases. Second, you must meet with your assigned probation officer on a regular basis to keep them updated on your progress and answer any questions they may have.
Depending on your underlying offense and the judge’s wishes, your probationary period may last from a few months to years. You must remain compliant with all conditions of your probation during this time frame to avoid facing negative consequences.
Common Types of Probation Violations in Baltimore
Probation violations in Maryland are classified as either a technical violation or a violation of law. Violations of law are more serious, although technical violations can still mean harsh penalties. A violation of law occurs if you pick up a new criminal charge, violate some sort of court-issued no contact order, or “abscond” by missing a required court appearance or more than one required meeting with your probation officer.
Technical violations are violations of any of the other probation conditions that were assigned as part of your probation sentence. As noted above, these conditions vary greatly depending on the individual and the crimes of which they were convicted. Some of the more common technical violations include the following:
- Testing positive for drugs or alcohol
- Not attending sessions of court-ordered mental health or drug and alcohol counseling
- Showing up late to an appointment
- Failing to do community service
- Not paying restitution to victims
- Failing to complete anger management classes
- Not paying all your court fines or costs on time
- Not attending school or work regularly
- Leaving the state without permission
- Changing addresses without informing your probation officer
How a Baltimore Probation Violation Hearing Works
If you commit a technical violation, it is up to your probation officer whether they file an official violation with the court or choose to try to work things out between the two of you. A skilled defense attorney like those at the Law Offices of Randolph Rice will be experienced in dealing with different probation officers and may be able to help you convince them not to take the matter to court, especially if this is your first technical violation.
If a violation is filed with the court, you will be arrested and a probation violation hearing will take place. This case is a civil matter before the judge who sentenced you on your criminal case. If you deny the violation, there will a trial-like proceeding where each side is permitted to present evidence and witnesses and cross-examine the other side’s witnesses.
Penalties for Violating Probation in Baltimore
Penalties will depend on the judge and whether you committed a technical violation of law. Judges have a great deal of discretion in doling out punishments related to violations of the terms of probation. Sometimes, particularly for a first offense of a technical violation, they may be inclined to simply give you a warning or a small fine.
If they decide to sentence you to jail time for a technical violation, there is a statutory limitation to the length of jail sentences they can hand down. For a first-time technical violation, the judge may order no more than 15 days of jail time. For a second-time offense, they can order no more than 30 days, and they can order no more than 45 days for a third offense.
Judges also have the authority to revoke your probation and order you to serve out the sentence that was originally suspended. This is almost never used for technical violations but is much more common for violations of law. A skilled Baltimore probation violation hearing attorney like those on the team at the Law Offices of Randolph Rice can fight to keep your probation in place after a violation.
Call Our Experienced Baltimore Probation Violation Attorneys Today
Probation often involves complying with numerous conditions, and hard-working people with busy lives may have a difficult time keeping up with them all. It is not at all uncommon for someone to be charged with a probation violation that was simply the result of forgetfulness rather than any ill-intent. At the Law Offices of Randolph Rice, our Baltimore probation violation attorneys know how to mitigate the damage a probation violation can potentially cause. We will tell your side of the story, work to negotiate a deal, and aggressively defend you at a hearing if it comes to that. Call us today at (410) 694-7291 for a free consultation.