Probation is a favorable alternative to spending time behind bars if you are convicted of a crime in Philadelphia. However, too many individuals make the mistake of not taking probation seriously. They may believe that probation conditions are not strict or that probation officers will be forgiving if you mess up. This type of approach to probation often leads to allegations of probation violations and leads the convicted individual right back into the courtroom. These accusations can have serious penalties, including jail time, so it is imperative to contact an experienced Philadelphia criminal defense lawyer as soon as you are suspected of violating any condition of your probation.
Common conditions of probation
When you are first sentenced to probation, the judge will inform you of some basic conditions of your probation that were set out in your plea agreement or in your sentencing. Additionally, your probation officer will likely inform you of any additional provisions and conditions. The type and restrictiveness of probation conditions will depend on the type of offense for which you were convicted, your past criminal record, and any other relevant factors. Some of the more common probation conditions can include the following:
- Attending regular meetings with your probation officer;
- Providing updated information regarding your residence, employment, and other personal matters;
- Holding down a job or being enrolled in an educational program;
- Not using drugs or alcohol and undergoing random testing to detect substance use;
- Not moving out of the area without permission;
- Complying with all of the laws on the local, state, and federal level;
- Reporting any encounter with law enforcement officers to your probation officer;
- Obeying a curfew;
- Not associating with certain individuals that were involved in the underlying criminal offense.
Penalties for probation violations
In some instances, if your probation officer suspects that you committed a relatively minor violation, they may simply issue you a warning. However, if the violation is more serious—such as picking up another criminal charge—a warrant for your arrest will likely be issued. Once you are arrested, you will be brought in front of the same judge who issued your probation sentence. If the judge determines that you violated your probation, a variety of penalties may be issued, including:
- Community service – This is often required both as a punishment and to rehabilitate you from a possible tendency toward violating in the future.
- Mandatory treatment – If your violation was regarding drug or alcohol use, you may be required to undergo an evaluation and substance abuse rehabilitation if recommended. Time in rehab may be brief or lengthy depending on your progress and the severity of the drug or alcohol violation.
- Counseling – If your violation stems from ongoing issues and possible emotional or mental health struggles, you may have to attend counseling.
- Fines – As punishment for violation, you may have to pay fines in addition to your regular costs of probation.
- Shock time – In some instances, a judge will send you to jail for a short period of time—such as a weekend—in an attempt to deter any future violations of your probation conditions.
- Stricter probation conditions – Some courts may believe that increasing the restrictiveness of your probation conditions may hold you more accountable for failing to comply with the previously more relaxed conditions.
- Increased probation – Some violators have their probation period extended, especially if the violation made the court believe that the individual is not yet ready to be in the community unsupervised.
- Probation revocation – In cases of serious violations, a judge may completely revoke your probation. You may then have to serve the remaining time of your probation sentence in jail.
As you can see, the penalties for probation violations can be very serious. These penalties will also be in addition to any new charges you may be facing. If you have to appear at a probation violation hearing, it is critical that you have an experienced criminal defense attorney defending your rights.
Contact a skilled Philadelphia criminal defense lawyer today
If you have been accused of violating your probation or have been arrested and charged with a new crime while on probation, you should immediately call The Zeiger Firm to discuss your case. We can not only help with your probation violation but also with your new charges, so please call our office at 215-546-0340 as soon as possible.