Violation of Probation
If you have been charged with a probation violation even before the accusations against you are proven the State’s Attorney is already counting the jail time you owe in their mind. The State thinks it has a slam dunk case to prove the probation violation and that you have no options available but to accept whatever plea offer they throw your way. However, an experienced defense attorney can make a difference in the outcome by zealously contesting the allegations against you and defending your rights. If you have been charged with a violation of probation (VOP) you should immediately seek the counsel of a top probation violation defense attorney at the Law Offices of Allan F. Friedman to review your case. We offer free initial consultations and we are available 24/7 at (203) 357-5555.
A large percentage of Defendants who are convicted of crimes in Connecticut will either receive straight probation with a suspended jail sentence or in the alternative a split sentence meaning that they have to serve some period of incarceration followed by a period of probation. In 2017 we have hit a 23 year record low prisoner population in the State of Connecticut. Much of the progress can be attributed to a larger population of probationers serving terms of probation in the community in lieu of jail.
- Types of Probation
Probation can range from a very restrictive formal type of probation where you are required to “check in” with your probation officer every week or other week and may have to submit to random drug tests during those meetings. Other probationers are deemed low risk and are placed under less restrictive “non-reporting” forms of probation. However, no matter which form of probation you are under and what the approach of your probation officer there are some uniform requirements that all Probationers must follow as a condition of Probation.
- Conditions of Probation
There are general or “standard conditions” of probation which all Probationers must follow and in addition in most cases there are also “special” conditions of probation which apply to the particular case.
Some examples of standard conditions of probation include:
- Do not break any laws
- Follow the directions of your Probation Officer – including reporting to your Probation Officer as directed
- Inform your Probation Officer of any changes in your address
- Do not leave the State or travel without the permission of your Probation Officer
- Do not possess any firearms
- Provide a DNA sample (felony cases)
- Register as a sex offender (sex crimes cases)
Some examples of special conditions of Probation which the Judge or the Probation Officer may impose include:
- Restitution to the victim(s)
- No contact with the victims
- Maintain employment
- Substance abuse evaluation and treatment
- Mental health evaluation and treatment
- Anger management counseling
- Electronic monitoring
- Sex offender treatment (Sex Crimes)
- Community service hours
No matter what kind of probation violation situation you face, it is a serious legal matter and you should seek an experienced Stamford probation violation defense attorney to review your case and put together a powerful, forceful defense to the allegations against you. At the Law Offices of Allan F. Friedman we have 25 years of Courtroom experience defending Stamford probation violation cases.
There are two general varieties of probation violations:
- Technical Probation Violation
This kind of probation violation is based upon not following the standard or special conditions of probation in your case or for missing an appointment with your Probation Officer for example. Let’s face it, with so many rules and regulations to follow while on probation it is easy to overlook something and find yourself facing a technical probation violation that you did not intend to commit. We have seen our client’s charged with technical violations for leaving the State without permission, for failure to pay restitution, for not going to counseling or substance abuse treatment as required or for having contact with the victim and many other reasons. The main point of a technical violation is that you have not committed a new criminal offense, however, in some way you have violated the terms of your probation and your Probation Officer has decided to file for a warrant for your arrest for violation of the terms of your probation. In my experience before you will be charged with a technical probation violation the Probation Officer will have given you several warnings – often in writing – about your lack of compliance. So if you are currently on probation it is important to maintain a positive relationship with your Probation Officer and try and follow through on all the requirements of your probation.
A technical probation violation can result in having to argue your case before a Judge and really do some strong convincing why you should be given another opportunity to remain on probation and not placed in jail. Depending on the nature of your technical violation often having an experienced probation violation defense attorney working to argue your case can get you a second chance to get back on probation and avoid having to serve time in jail. If you have been charged with a technical probation violation it is important that you address the matter very seriously as all probation violation cases have the potential result of incarceration.
- Re-Arrest Violation
The second variety of probation violation cases are by their very nature more serious in that the alleged violation of your conditions of probations is based upon a new arrest for which a Judge has found probable cause. In this situation you are facing not only the new arrest that you just picked up but also the prospect of a warrant for your arrest for violation of probation on the basis that you broke the law while on probation. In most situations where you have been arrested while on probation it is inevitable that a violation of probation warrant will soon follow. Depending on the facts and strength of the new arrest case against you, the situation may be a difficult one to overcome. As we will discuss at greater length below, violation of probation proceedings move at greater speed than a criminal trial, the state has a lower standard of proof and the rules of evidence are relaxed. Thus, defending against violation of probation cases is much more difficult than defending against a normal criminal charge.
- A Two Part Process – Part One – violation phase
The first phase of a probation violation hearing focuses on the sole issue of if you violated the terms of your probation. It is an adversarial evidentiary hearing in which the accused is entitled to cross examine any witnesses that the state may call. Further and very importantly you are entitled to present you own defense case and present evidence and witness to prove that you did not commit the violation of probation. This is why it is very important to retain the services of a skilled Stamford probation violation attorney with court room experience to defend your rights.
A probation violation hearing differs significantly from a normal criminal case in several critical aspects. This makes it much easier for the State to prove a violation of probation than a criminal case. However, you still have rights to a hearing and a defense and the State still has to prove the allegations against you. In this section we will examine how a probation violation hearing differs from a normal criminal case and how those differences can effect your case.
- Standard of Proof is Lower
In a probation violation case the standard of proof or burden of proof upon the State is much lower than in a criminal case. In a criminal case the State’s burden of proof is the highest possible standard “proof beyond a reasonable doubt.” Which is a very high bar that the State must reach to obtain a conviction in a criminal case. However, in a probation violation case, the standard of proof is much lower. The State need only prove the violation by a “fair preponderance of the evidence.” This is a much lower standard. This means in lay persons words that the State must prove that is more probable than not that you have violated your probation. In effect, the Court is going to hear both sides and then determine which side has the stronger argument and rule in their favor. Again, this is a much lower standard of proof than in a criminal case. It is for this reason why many State’s Attorneys’ feel that when they have a violation of probation charge that you are already guilty as charged because of the relatively low standard of proof they have to achieve to prove a violation of probation. If you have been charged with a violation of probation a very careful review of all the evidence, witness statements, video and every single detail of the case by an experienced Stamford probation violation defense attorney can find the defects in the State’s case which may help to develop a winning strategy to fight your case.
- No Right to a Jury Trial
In a violation of probation hearing you have no right to have your case heard by a jury. Instead the case is only heard by a bench trial by a single Judge who will make the final decision. Obviously, this is a huge disadvantage because with a jury trial if even a single juror refuses to vote to convict you can not be convicted. In a probation violation case your fate lies in the hands of a sole judge who’s decision is in all intents and purposes final unless that judge commits a glaring error. This is because the Appellate Courts grant a wide degree of discretion to the opinion of the trial Court Judge when deciding probation violation cases.
- Rules of Evidence Relaxed
Unlike in a criminal trial, during a probation violation hearing you are not protected by all of the rules of evidence. For example, one of the most significant protections the exclusionary rule that prohibits the introduction of evidence that the Police obtained without first obtaining a valid search warrant in a criminal case does not apply to a probation violation case. Other rules of evidence which protect you in criminal cases but are too technical and numerous to detail for this short article also do not apply in probation violation cases.
- Very Speedy Hearings
A violation of probation hearing is a summary procedure by statute and is required to be held within 120 days of the arraignment unless good cause is shown.
Even though the deck may be stacked against you in terms of the ground rules in a violation of probation hearing, hiring a skilled Stamford criminal defense attorney who will take the time to carefully review all the details of your case and highlight mitigation factors and positive aspects about your life that the State may have overlooked in its rush to judgment can help to work out a favorable plea bargain arrangement. Stamford Attorney Allan F. Friedman has 25 years of experience in working with local Judges and State’s Attorney’s to reach favorable plea dispositions on behalf of his clients often resulting in the re-imposition of probation. In the event that the State is unwilling to offer you a plea disposition that is fair and which makes sense Attorney Friedman is ready to prepare your probation violation case for an adversarial hearing and work hard to fight the State every inch of the way.
- Standard of Proof is Lower
- - Part Two – the Sentencing Phase
If the Court finds that you did violate your probation all is not lost. Then the battle shifts to the sentencing phase where your Stamford probation violation defense lawyer can argue on your behalf for a reinstatement of your probation of a lighter sentence that what the State is seeking.
The Courts options at sentencing are:
- Continue the probation
- Modify or extend the probation conditions
- Extend the period of probation up to the maximum
- Revoke probation and require the defendant to serve up to the maximum sentence that is owed or less than the maximum
The Court has very broad discretion at the sentencing phase about what sentence to impose. For this reason it is imperative to retain an experienced criminal defense counsel who is gifted with the ability to explain to the court your violation of the terms of probation a light most favorable to mitigation. A lot of effort should be put into presenting to the Court evidence of your positive progress while you were under probation. This is a time when effective and powerful advocacy can really have a huge impact on your future. The objective of course is to convince the Court to give you another chance and allow you back on probation. If the Court is inclined to impose some period of incarceration, then you need an articulate and skilled defense counsel by your side who will craft an effective argument to persuade the Court to lean towards the minimum possible period of incarceration.
If you have been charged with violation of probation Attorney Allan F. Friedman understands that your freedom is at risk. Attorney Friedman will tenaciously defend your probation violation allegations and the State’s attempt to send you back to jail. So if you have been charged with a probation violation in Greenwich, Stamford, Norwalk, Darien, New Canaan, Cos Cob, Fairfield, Westport, Wilton, Weston, Bridgeport and throughout the County of Fairfield do not hesitate to contact the Law Offices of Allan F. Friedman. We work on a flat fee basis and our rates are reasonable. Call Attorney Friedman at (203) 357-5555 to schedule your free initial consultation and case evaluation – we are available 24/7. Or you can contact them online for a prompt response.