Probation Violations VOP
Edison Violation of Probation Lawyer
If you have been placed on probation for a crime in Middlesex County or anywhere else in New Jersey, there are things you need to know. Probation can seem like a gift in lieu of jail, but there are serious consequences should you violate your probation. In this article, we discuss what comes with probation, violations of probation, and the consequences of violating probation. If you have been accused of violating your probation, it is critical to talk to a lawyer who can help with your defense. Our skilled team of attorneys consistently appear on behalf of clients who have to go to court for a VOP hearing in Middlesex County Superior Court in New Brunswick, because of alleged probation violations. Contact us at (732) 659-9600 for a free consultation to discuss your options today.
How do You Get Probation?
In most cases, any person charged with an offense must make an appearance in court for a plea date. The prosecutor and the defendant’s attorney are encouraged to work the case out with some form of an agreement (if possible). Often, in third and fourth degree cases as well as cases involving disorderly persons offense, the agreed upon resolution is probation. In more serious cases, a highly skilled attorney may be able to negotiate a better deal with the prosecutor that allows their client to avoid spending time in state prison. Instead, the person may be placed on probation and subject to certain terms and conditions during this period.
Probation is a term of supervision set forth by the court in the jurisdiction in which a criminal offense occurred. In other words, probation allows a person to remain in their daily life, instead of state prison or county jail, while being supervised by a probation officer. The court may order specific conditions of probation that you must adhere to, such as mandatory drug testing, mental health counseling, or anger management classes. Aside from specific conditions, you must comply with the general conditions of probation, which include avoiding any further arrests or charges and regularly reporting to your probation officer.
What if you Violate Probation?
If you violate the conditions of probation, your probation officer will file a violation with the court and you will have to appear in court to address the violation. At a violation hearing, the probation officer will attempt to prove, by a preponderance of evidence (meaning its more likely than not), that you violated the conditions of your probation. If the court finds that you substantially violated the conditions, you could be sentenced to the original term associated with the degree of your original charges. The Judge is not bound by any recommendations of the prosecutor and has the option of sending you to jail, giving you an extended term of probation, subjecting you to additional terms, or any combination thereof.
Essentially, on re-sentencing, the judge can sentence you to whatever you could have received if convicted. This means the judge has the right to sentence you to the maximum sentence permitted by law. The court considers probation to be a gift and if this gift is squandered, the judge has the right to sentence you however he or she deems fit. In the case of a probation violation involving a third degree crime, you can be forced to serve up to 5 years in state prison. A fourth degree crime subjects you to up to 18 months, and a disorderly persons offense carries a maximum of 180 days in the county jail.
How do Probation Violations Happen?
The following example makes it easier to understand how probation violations can occur and the potential consequences of a violation of probation. Let’s say a man was placed on probation for possessing cocaine, which is a third degree crime. He had already used his one chance to get marijuana possession charges dismissed by enrolling in conditional discharge in a previous municipal court case. Instead of going to trial on the new cocaine possession charge, the man agreed to be supervised on probation for two years without having to serve any jail time.
During his probation, the defendant was told to get a substance abuse evaluation and follow any recommended treatment. He was told to report weekly to probation, to refrain from drug use, to obtain a job and provide proof of the job, and to refrain from committing any new offense. The probation officer alleges that he missed his regular appointments and, when he did show up, he tested positive for THC and cocaine. The officer requested a copy of the substance abuse evaluation and more frequent visits. Instead of complying, the man gave up, did not appear for his appointments and did not get his evaluation. In fact, the man started to use drugs again and picked up a new charge in municipal court for possessing drug paraphernalia. As a result, the probation officer filed a violation with the Superior Court alleging the specific violations above. At a hearing, the court found that he substantially violated the terms of his probation. Unfortunately for the guy in this example, his original charge was a third degree crime, which means that the judge could sentence him to a state prison term of 3 to 5 years.
Accused of Violating Probation in Middlesex County, What can I do?
If you allegedly violated your probation, you need skilled representation at your VOP hearing. Our attorneys have handled numerous probation violations in Middlesex County and throughout New Jersey and we will fight to achieve the best outcome for you. A solid defense strategy can go a long way when your probation officer violates you. Sometimes, agreements can be made on probation violations that allow you to avoid jail and further consequences. While no judge is bound by any recommendations of the parties, it is also possible to argue for a new term of probation. Do not give up and do nothing or go to court alone. Contact our local Edison office today for more information and discuss how we can help with your violation of probation case.