In the criminal justice system, placing someone on probation is often seen as a more lenient sentencing alternative that sending them to jail. However, getting probation does not mean that you are entirely off the hook. Probation involves a lot of effort on your part to comply with the conditions of the court and to ensure that you make all of your required appointments and meetings. One small violation could mean time spent behind bars.
At the Law Offices of Randolph Rice, our experienced Maryland probation violation defense lawyers know how to help you avoid serious consequences if you commit a violation of your probation. We can advise you on the best steps to take to prevent a probation office from filing an official violation and can defend you at your hearing if one is filed. For a free consultation, call us today at (410) 694-7291.
How Probation Works in Maryland
If you are found guilty of a crime at trial, or if you plead guilty as part of a deal with the prosecutor, the case will proceed to a sentencing hearing. At this hearing, the judge will decide what penalties you should face for your crime. One of the possible penalties for most crimes is a sentence of probation. By sentencing you to probation, the judge gives you a chance to avoid jail time if you follow the conditions prescribed.
Probation requirements are tailored to the individual and the crime they committed, but there are some conditions that apply to all those on probation. First, you will have to meet with your probation officer on a regular schedule to speak with them about your progress. Second, you will have to stay out of trouble with the law. Any sort of further criminal charge you face will be considered a probation violation.
Probation can last from months to years depending on the severity of your crime. If you successfully complete your probation period, you will be released from government supervision and permitted to go about your life as it was without having to serve the underlying “suspended sentence.”
Common Probation Violations in Maryland
There are two types of probation violations in Maryland: technical violations, and violations of law. Violations of law occur if you commit another criminal violation while on probation or if you violate a probation term that is also a legal order, such as a no-contact order with a victim of your crime. A violation of law also occurs if you fail to show up for a required court appearance or miss more than one scheduled appointment with your probation officer. This is known as “absconding.”
The other type of potential violation is known as a technical violation. A technical violation is a violation of one of your other probation conditions. There are numerous different conditions that might be imposed and thus many different technical violations that might occur. Some of the most common 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
- Testing positive for drugs or alcohol
- 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
Probation Violation Hearings in Maryland
If you violate a condition of your probation, your probation officer has the ability to file a violation with the court. Sometimes probation officers are willing to work with you and not report minor violations so long as you make sure it does not happen again. An experienced probation lawyer like those at the Law Offices of Randolph Rice can help try to speak to your probation officer and convince them to hold off on filing a violation.
If the officer does file a violation, you are likely to be arrested. You will be held in jail pending your probation violation hearing. A lawyer may be able to speed up the process and get you in front of the judge sooner. The probation violation hearing is a civil case, not criminal, and the judge will make all the decisions. If you deny the violation, the hearing will play out like a mini trial, with each side presenting evidence and witnesses. Typically, the probation officer will testify and your lawyer will have a chance to cross-examine them.
Penalties for Maryland Probation Violations
If you admit to the probation violation or the judge rules that you did indeed violate a condition after a probation hearing, you will face additional penalties. Sometimes this may just be a warning or a small fine, but it can include time in jail. Maryland has set a statutory limit on how much jail time you can face for a technical probation violation. For a first offense of a technical violation, your judge can place you in jail for up to 15 days. For a second offense, you can be sentenced to up to 30 days. For a third offense, you can face up to 45 days in jail. Beyond that, you risk having your probation revoked entirely.
Probation is also likely to be revoked if you commit a violation of law, such as picking up a new charge or violating a no-contact order. If probation is revoked, you receive whatever sentence was “suspended” by the judge at your original sentencing hearing. This means you could face months to years of jail time depending on what the underlying offense is and how harshly the judge views your violation.
If You Believe You Have Committed a Probation Violation, Call Our Firm Today
After a probation violation, the sooner you get in contact with a skilled Maryland probation violation defense attorney like those at the Law Offices of Randolph Rice, the better your chances are of avoiding harsh penalties. We can work with your probation officer to negotiate a situation where you agree to comply in the future if they do not file an official violation. If a probation hearing is required, we will fight to have your side of the story told and for you to avoid harsh penalties, especially revocation of your probation. For a free consultation, call us today at (410) 694-7291.