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Michigan Criminal Law Blog

What You Need to Know about Probation Violations

ProbationViolating probation, especially if it involves driving after drinking alcohol, can result in you serving time in jail. And despite feeling as though you can justify a violation, the law is unlikely to be very understanding. You’ll be headed back to court and be forced to deal with the consequences.

The last thing you want to do is avoid the situation because a bench warrant will be issued and you’ll be facing additional charges. Taking swift action to defend yourself and prove you deserve less than the harshest of penalties is essential and requires the assistance of an experienced attorney.

Understanding Probation

If you’re convicted of a crime the judge might include probation as a consequence of the conviction.

Though probation is sometimes seen as an alternative to a jail sentence, it’s actually just putting a sentence on pause. You are still under the control of the court system and while on probation, you are required to do certain things and restricted from doing other things. If you fail to meet your obligations you’ll be in violation of your probation and face consequences for your actions or inactions.

Probation doesn’t mean you are free. It just means you aren’t required by the judge to spend every day and night in a jail cell.

Violating Probation

There are many ways you can violate probation and some are specific to your particular case.

For instance, if you’ve been convicted of OWI, there’s a good chance your probation restrictions will relate to drinking alcohol, whereas someone else might be free to drink, but restricted from going certain places or spending time with certain people.

There are also varying degrees of probation violations. The worst type of violation is a revocable offense and if committed, a judge has the authority to send you to jail for the entirety of your sentence, thus ending the pause probation provided.

There are two types of revocable offenses:

1. New criminal conviction
2. Absconding

A new conviction is just as it sounds: you are charged with an entirely new crime while on probation. When this occurs, you could be facing the penalties of your original crime, as well as the new one.

On the other hand, absconding occurs when you avoid your probation officer. No new crime is committed, but you’ve failed to meet the obligations triggered by your initial crime.

A requirement of probation is to check in and allow your probation officer to monitor your actions. If the officer is unable to track you down and keep tabs on you, you’re considered to have absconded and you can immediately be sent to jail for doing so.

Keep in mind, there are a number of actions that can get you accused of absconding. You might think you’ve done nothing wrong, but if you change your phone number and miss an appointment with your probation officer, you could be accused of absconding.

To learn more about what it means to abscond check out this information from NOLO.com.

Technical Probation Violations

In addition to the two revocable offenses that can get you sent directly to jail while on probation, it’s also possible to commit technical violations.

There are millions of ways probation can be technically violated, and in many cases these infractions won’t result in jail time. It’s possible, though, so you need to do all you can to avoid violating probation in any way at all.

It’s also important to realize that the initial crime for which you were convicted can also affect how probation violations are handled. If you’re on probation for a felony, the consequences of a violation will likely be more severe than if you’re on probation for a misdemeanor.

Why You Need an Attorney If You are on Probation

Chances are you’ll feel relieved if you’re granted probation instead of being forced to spend time in jail. Even you were in jail, once you reach probation you’ll have a lot more freedom.

The important thing to remember is that probation doesn’t mean you’re off the hook entirely. You still have obligations and you can still end up in jail if you make a mistake. This is one of the reasons it’s so important to have an attorney on your side ensuring your rights are protected and that you’re treated fairly.

For more information or to schedule a consultation to discuss your situation, contact Andrew W. Kowalkowski, PLLC at 248.974.9594.

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