Probation Violation Attorneys In Michigan
Probation is considered a privilege or even an “act of grace” by the judge who sentenced you. In other words, by putting you on probation rather than imposing a lengthy term of incarceration, the judge had mercy on you. Although most people don’t see probation—and the myriad conditions that come with it—as a privilege, the law does.
It’s no surprise, then, that many judges take it as a personal affront when you’ve allegedly violated a term of your probation. They feel that their mercy has been misspent. To avoid the wrath of an angry judge, you need an experienced and dedicated probation violation attorney on your side if you’ve been accused.
In the Beginning
Most probation violations start out with your probation officer finding out that you’ve allegedly violated a term of your probation. Maybe you allegedly failed a drug test or failed to report for an appointment. The probation officer will notify the court, which will either issue a warrant for your arrest or else order you to appear in court to be arraigned on the violation.
Regardless of the particular procedure that your court uses, at some point you’ll go in front of the judge for the arraignment. This is where the judge informs you of the nature of the alleged violation. The judge will also determine whether you can be released on bond and what the terms of the bond will be.
The Violation Hearing
The case will later be scheduled for a violation hearing. The hearing is like an informal mini-trial. The prosecutor will present witnesses and your attorney will be able to cross-examine the witnesses. Your attorney can also present witnesses on your behalf.
There a couple crucial differences, though, between a trial and a probation violation hearing. First, the judge, not a jury, gets to decide whether the violation has been proven. Second, the standard the court uses is what’s called “the preponderance of the evidence.” This means that the judge only needs to find that it’s more likely than not that you committed the violation. In other words, if the judge thinks that there’s a 51% chance that you committed the violation, you’re guilty. This is obviously a lot different from the beyond-a-reasonable-doubt standard used at a criminal trial. In addition, “hearsay” evidence is admissible at a probation violation hearing and the rules of evidence don’t have to be followed.
Also, it may be possible to reach a plea agreement to resolve the probation violation. Often, there may be several alleged violations and a resolution can be reached where you plead to certain violations in exchange for dismissal of other ones. In some cases, it may be wise to plead to a less serious violation in exchange for dismissal of a more serious one.
If you took a plea deal or were found guilty after a hearing, you will have a new sentencing hearing. The judge has several options at his or her disposal. The judge can continue your probation, modify the terms of your probation, extend your probation, or revoke your probation and incarcerate you. Perhaps most significantly, for a felony case in circuit court, the judge will ordinarily have the option of sending you to prison. Our goal on a probation violation is to keep you out of jail or prison, no matter what the circumstance of the alleged violations.
In most cases, if the client has been found guilty of a probation violation, some term of incarceration should be expected. For a minor violation in a misdemeanor case, it might only be a weekend in jail. For a serious violation in a felony case, though, it may be several years in prison.
Contact Us Right Away
Judges take probation violations very seriously. If you’re facing a probation violation, contact us online or call us at our 24/7 defense hotline at 1-800-342-7896.