Judges in Maryland have a variety of tools at their disposal to handle sentencing in criminal convictions. For minor criminal offenses, probation is often the preferred sentence. To stay out of jail, a person must follow the rules. So, how does someone violate probation? Here’s what you need to know about Maryland’s violation of probation:
- Conditions of probation, the rules to follow for freedom;
- Violations of probationary sentences, broken into two categories of infractions; And
- Consequences of a violation, penalties imposed.
Conditions of A Probation Sentence Set the Groundwork to Avoid Trouble
Offenders sentenced to probation in Maryland are either supervised or unsupervised over a period instead of going to jail. Probation is beneficial for the courts and the offender. It keeps low-level offenders from crowding jails and allows them to work and rehabilitate themselves into better community members while being free.
As part of a probation sentence, an offender must abide by the court’s rules or conditions to stay out of jail. Breaking these conditions is a violation of probation, VOP. The rules are in place to guide the offender away from trouble and stay on the straight and narrow.
Here is a quick run-through of typical conditions of probation in Maryland:
- Obey ALL laws.
- Meet with a probation officer regularly.
- No alcohol or drug use.
- No contact with certain people.
- Community service.
- Rehabilitation or counseling services.
- Work or school obligations.
- Unable to possess weapons or firearms.
- Fines or restitution.
- Cannot move or change jobs without the permission of probation officer.
- House arrest.
- Supply a DNA sample.
- Register as a sex offender (if on probation for a sex-related crime).
- Appear in court when notified to do so.
The period in which these conditions are followed varies and is dependent on the judge who grants it, but Maryland limits probation to a maximum of five years. The conditions imposed are usually related to the type of criminal offense the person is on probation for.
Not following the rules is just one violation of probation in Maryland.
Two Types of Probation Violations in Maryland
Maryland has two types of probation violations, VOP: technical and non-technical, including new criminal offenses.
Technical violations are a broken condition of the probation sentence. These occur when a meeting with the probation officer is missed, a drug test gets failed, or not completing a treatment program. If any of the rules, general or specific, are not met by the offender, then the sentence’s requirements have been broken, and new consequences can be imposed.
Non-technical violations happen when, well, a new crime is committed. If someone is on probation for a minor drug offense and gets pulled over and charged with a DUI, they committed a a new criminal offense. Other non-technical violations include absconding from supervision and violating a no-contact order.
VOP’s have different consequences depending on the severity of the violation. Non-technical violations face the harshest ramifications, while technical violations might not get reported if your probation officer is willing to work with you, but if not, there are penalties associated.
Sentences Imposed When a Violation is Determined
Technical probation violations come with the following penalties for an offense:
- First offense – 15 days in jail
- Second offense – 30 days in jail
- Third offense – 45 days in jail
- Full suspended time for any further offense after the third.
It means that missing a meeting, a non-criminal violation, can put you in jail.
Penalties for non-technical violations include revoking the probation sentence and reinstating the suspended time as well as any sentencing imposed from the new criminal conviction.
Before sentences are imposed for a VOP, there will be a hearing to decide if the allegation is a violation.
Violation of Probation Hearing
These hearings are not criminal. They are, in fact, a civil hearing. A judge decides the outcome, not a jury. The “preponderance of evidence” standard is used rather than “beyond a reasonable doubt.” This standard means the evidence only needs to show there is a likelihood the claim is valid.
During the hearing, a defendant can agree or deny that a violation of probation occurred. If denying the accusation of a violation, having an attorney represent your interests is a good idea. A criminal defense attorney can explain the legal options available and protect your rights.
If denying the violation, the hearing moves on to witness testimony – usually the probation officer – providing evidence of the violation. The defendant has an opportunity to refute the claim during this time.
After presenting evidence, the judge decides if a violation occurred, and if they decide in favor of a violation, then a sentence is handed down.
Staying out of jail is the ultimate goal of a probation sentence, so if there is a chance of a violation, the best thing to do is get an attorney who will keep the probation sentence intact and you out of jail. Contact the criminal defense attorneys at The Law Office of James E. Crawford, Jr. & Associates, LLC for a free initial consultation into your case.