VENTURA CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY- Probation Violation
Many people successfully complete probation, and we congratulate those who have followed through on their commitment to the court. In other cases, by not fulfilling the conditions of probation or by falling under suspicion of breaking a law, individuals can suddenly find themselves in hot water. In Ventura, probation generally falls into one of two types, supervised by a probation officer or unsupervised. A police, parole, or probation officer with probable cause may arrest the suspected violator, even without a warrant.
An example of a probation violation includes someone who gets arrested for a fight at a baseball game while he is on probation for a previous bar fight, where he was convicted of battery for his role. This assumes that the court ordered the person not to violate the same law or to obey all laws. Without this type of condition, a probation violation is not possible. Whether an act violates a condition of probation is frequently a matter of degree or quality of conduct. The point on a spectrum where a violation occurs is often a highly technical judgment.
Hearing, Not Trial
When the time comes for evidence to be presented against the person, it takes place at a Probation Violation Hearing, not a trial. The defendant will face a higher bar trying to defend herself in this context because the burden of proof of a violation is only a preponderance of the evidence rather than beyond a reasonable doubt. This is a significantly lower bar for the factfinder. And here, the judge will be acting as the factfinder. There is no unanimous jury requirement.
Defenses to Probation Violation Charges in Ventura
The defendant may try to fight the probation violation charge. It is the prosecutor’s burden to prove them. The person will have many of the same safeguards that are available at a criminal trial. For example, one would have the 6th Amendment right to an attorney, the privilege against self-incrimination, and the right to testify on one’s own behalf. However, as mentioned before, the hearing is structured less favorably for the defendant in terms of what has to be proved and who has to believe it. Oftentimes, a prosecutor will not bother filing new charges because there is a strong chance of prosecution on the probation violation, and no custody time is needed beyond what is available in the probation violation case. One avenue of investigation that the attorney can assist with is assessing the strength of the evidence of where and when the defendant was served with the notice of the probation conditions. For example, if the defendant was not present in court or did not show understanding of the conditions, there can be an argument made that they are not binding on him.
Potential Penalties for Probation Violations
Each case is going to depend heavily on the underlying charge and the alleged behavior which violates probation. In minor cases with a minor violation, the court could issue a warning and reinstate probation on the same terms as before. In more serious cases, the court could add harsher terms to the probation conditions. In the worst case, the court could revoke probation and send the person to prison.
Protect Your Rights
If you need more information or need to speak with an expert, Ventura Criminal Defense Attorney Sanford Horowitz will help you understand the charges you are facing, as well as what your rights are under the law. Sanford will fight vigorously for a positive outcome for your case before charges are filed, during pretrial settlement negotiations, or at trial. If you’d like to schedule a consultation about your case, call 805-452-7214 or fill out this contact form.