Maryland Criminal Defense Lawyers For Violation Of Probation
Violating Probation Can Quickly Turn Into Years-Long Prison Sentence. Fight For Your Freedom.
Those out on probation can quickly find themselves facing violation of probation (VOP) charges for innocent mistakes. They don’t deserve to go to jail for something out of their control.
JC Law defends these and others accused of VOP against over-anxious prosecutors looking to revoke court-mandated probation agreements.
What Is A “Violation of Probation” In Maryland?
When a Maryland court or prosecutor accuses a defendant of probation violation, they claim that the defendant did something that wasn’t allowed as part of their probation.
Probations are ordered as part of a judge’s original sentence for a convicted crime. They are a limited type of freedom where they can stay at home, but only if the defendant can meet certain conditions.
Judges may even offer to keep the conviction off of your official criminal record as part of a probation agreement, helping you reintegrate into society as a productive, employable individual.
Possible probation conditions may include:
- Supervision and regular meetings with a probation officer
- Community service time
- Possible restriction of movement, such as house arrest or not being allowed near a victim
- Counseling for addiction and other mental health illnesses that may have contributed to the crime
- Revocation of certain licenses or the right to own firearms
- Limitations on certain activities, such as alcohol consumption or internet use
Probations vary widely, as the conditions are based on the convicted crime and the defendant’s history.
Therefore, possible violation probations may include:
- Getting arrested for breaking more laws;
- Failing a mandatory drug test;
- Not talking to an assigned probation officer at the designated time;
- “Failing out of” or outright refusing court-ordered treatments, such as therapy or addiction programs;
- Failing an interlock ignition device as part of a DUI offender program; or
- Not paying court-ordered fines by the due date.
Ultimately, when a court offers probation, it means that they have some degree of trust in the defendant’s ability not to re-offend and present a danger to the community.
Break that trust by not following any of a probation’s requirements – regardless of reason – and you’re looking at probation violation charges.
Is Probation Violation The Same As Violating Parole?
While similar, probation and parole occur at different times in the criminal sentencing process.
- Probation would part of a judge’s initial sentence for a convicted crime. Probation can be offered instead of imprisonment, or mixed with some amount of jail time.
- Parole is after a convicted criminal spends at least some time in prison. They request authorities to let them out of prison early due to “good behavior” or a demonstrated change in attitude that makes them unlikely to offend again.
Violating either of these conditional freedoms is a big deal. To get “out” on either parole or probation, the defendant must commit to the conditions laid out by the court.
The court, in turn, trusts the defendant to adhere to the conditions and grants them (limited) freedom for a specified period of time.
Breaking the court’s trust for either parole or probation is not something Maryland courts in particular take lightly. Judges and prosecutors do not appreciate being made fools of.
What Are Possible Sentences For Violation Of Probation?
Unlike other crimes – which may have minimum sentences from which courts are not allowed to deviate – Maryland judges consider circumstances and the actual severity of the charge during a violation of probation hearing.
Possible sentences for probation violation include:
- Extension of probation time period
- Additional punishments and probation conditions, such as in-patient treatment rather than out-patient or more severe movement restrictions
- A short period in jail as punishment for the specific infraction
- Revocation of your license, if arrested for a traffic violation
If a judge deems the violation severe enough, then they may revoke the probation altogether. At that point, the hearing shifts to why you should stay out of jail – for which you received probation instead.
What Can A Criminal Defense Lawyer Do During A VOP Hearing?
As we mentioned before, a probation violation is subjective. That is, a Maryland judge rules on whether the violation is actually serious enough for punishment instead of handing down a mandated sentence.
In fact, a VOP hearing is actually a civil proceeding, rather than a criminal trial. That’s because the state prosecutor has essentially accused the defendant of breaking a contract – the probation – instead of a criminal law.
The defendant has several rights which can be skimmed over or ignored altogether if they do not have the proper legal representation.
Most notably, the defendant has the right to receive “written notice” of the violation charges, and the right to present evidence and witnesses in support of their claims.
A criminal defense lawyer experienced in probation violation cases knows what sort of evidence and witnesses will be most effective in limiting – or even eliminating! – violation charges.
Trying to “wing” a violation of probation hearing without legal counsel can result in catastrophic consequences. That’s because if a prosecution convinces a judge that there was a serious enough violation, the hearing turns into a sentencing.
Judges can sentence probation violators to significant jail time, especially if the probation was originally granted in lieu of prison sentences.
Basically, Maryland agreed that the punishment deserved X years in jail, but they’ll let the defendant serve it through probation. Violate the terms of the agreement, and the original sentence of X years can be reinstated.
Even if not technically criminal charges, those accused of violating probation need the best criminal defense they can get – to avoid charges from turning into substantial prison time.
“I used James Crawford on a violation of probation. One day after I was arrested, my wife went right to Crawford’s office. At my VOP trial, he argued the case and had everything Dismissed!!! If you or anyone you know have a court date, use James Crawford, Jr.”
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