What You Need to Know About New Jersey Probation Violations
Violation of Probation in Sussex County, NJ
In New Jersey, probation can be issued as an alternative sentence in a variety of situations. It is often used in criminal cases when an attorney negotiates with the prosecutor for a more lenient outcome, and is also common for lower-level indictable charges where a defendant’s criminal history is relatively minimal. If you are given probation, instead of being assigned jail time, you must meet a variety of requirements to ensure that you are “staying out of trouble” for a certain period, usually between one and five years.
How do you Violate Probation?
What you must do as part of your probation will vary widely, but it often includes things like random drug testing, regular meetings with a probation officer, undergoing counseling, electronic monitoring, payment of fines and court costs, community service, and restrictions on travel. If you fail even one condition of your probation, you could face charges for a violation. That means that something as simple as missing one counseling session or forgetting about a meeting with your probation officer could have grave consequences. It is critical that you fully understand and keep track of all of the conditions of your probation. Meeting those requirements is a must if you want to remain out of jail for a probation violation and want to avoid having your probation suspended or revoked.
What Happens if you are Accused of Violating Probation?
If you violate any of the conditions during your term of your probation, your probation officer will file a Violation of Probation (VOP) complaint, explaining to the court how exactly you violated your probation. If you violate your probation or the probation officer believes you did, you will have to go through a Violation of Probation (VOP) hearing. Once a VOP complaint has been filed, a hearing will be scheduled that you must attend. If you don’t show up in court for your probation violation hearing, a warrant for your arrest will likely be issued.
At the hearing, your probation officer will explain why he or she thinks you have violated your probation and you will be given an opportunity to explain yourself. In many situations, a probation violation is due to a misunderstanding or factors beyond your control. You are entitled to have an attorney defending you, which can go a long way to show the judge that you did not, in fact, fail to fulfill one of the conditions of your probation or if you did, that you should be allowed to continue and finish out your sentence with minimal to no additional penalties.
Charged with a Probation Violation, What am I Facing?
If you are found guilty of violating your probation, the judge has a few options. The most severe of these options is to sentence you for the original charges. Basically, if the court suspends or revokes your probation, the judge can sentence you according to the guidelines for the charges in your original case. That means that you can go to jail to serve the time that you would have served if you were not given probation. This is true even if your probation time is almost up—you could have just a few months left of probation and end up going to jail regardless. The judge can also increase the time that you must remain on probation, add new conditions to your probation, and terminate the probation if they determine that it’s appropriate. You will also face additional penalties if your alleged probation violation involves another criminal offense, such as possession of marijuana, cocaine, prescription medications, or driving under the influence (DWI / DUI).
Need a Lawyer for Probation Violation in Warren County, New Jersey
Many people make the mistake of assuming that they will just get a minimal reprimand if they violate their probation. The truth is that the sentence can be very serious, which is why it is important to have an experienced New Jersey criminal defense attorney available to present your case at your VOP hearing and argue for the best possible result. The experienced criminal lawyers at our New Jersey defense firm are fully prepared to represent you at your VOP hearing and will do everything we can do keep your probation from being suspended or revoked. Our attorneys have helped numerous clients in New Jersey to decrease their potential consequences after being violated by their probation officer. Call us now at 973.755.1695 for a free consultation if you are being charged with a probation violation. You can also contact us online to arrange an appointment at one of our conveniently located offices.