When a court issues a sentence following a person’s criminal conviction, the court may grant the defendant the opportunity for parole – early supervised release from a prison sentence – or impose a term of probation instead of a prison sentence. Probation or parole has significant restrictions and obligations for those convicted of committing a crime or released early. In most cases, defendants must regularly report to a probation or parole officer, submit to regular drug testing, maintain stable housing and employment, and refrain from committing any new criminal offenses.
When a defendant fails to follow the conditions of their probation or parole, their probation or parole officer can refer the defendant back to the criminal court for violating the terms of their probation or parole.
A conviction for probation or parole violations can significantly affect your freedom and future. A parole violation lawyer can provide compassionate legal support for you during this challenging and frightening time. A lawyer can advocate in your defense to disprove allegations of probation or parole violations or fight to secure a favorable resolution to your charges that allows you to avoid the harshest consequences of a violation. Contact The Zeiger Firm today for a free initial consultation with a parole violation lawyer to discuss your legal options.
Probation/Parole Violations: Consequences and Legal Implications
What happens if you violate probation or parole in Philadelphia? A conviction for a probation or parole violation may carry various consequences depending on whether you serve probation or parole, the severity of the violation, and your criminal history or history of violations.
For example, a probation violation may result in the trial court imposing a new term of probation, regardless of how much of your current probation term you have served. Or the court may impose a jail sentence, especially if the court initially imposed probation instead of incarceration.
A parole violation can result in a defendant having to serve the remainder of their prison term, plus additional time if the violation involved a criminal offense.
When probation and parole officers accuse offenders of violating their probation or parole, the court will hold two hearings. The first hearing called a “Gagnon I” or “detainer” hearing, involves determining whether a probation or parole officer has probable cause to pursue violation proceedings and whether to detain the offender pending resolution of their charges. A probation or parole officer must present enough evidence to establish probable cause at the hearing. Defendants may present evidence to rebut the officer’s case. In Philadelphia, Gagnon I hearings occur before a trial commissioner who decides whether the officer has proven probable cause and whether to release a defendant pending the second hearing. Trial commissioners act under the supervision of judges, some of whom require trial commissioners to seek their approval before ordering a defendant’s release at a Gagnon I hearing.
The second hearing, known as a Gagnon II or violation hearing, results in a judgment on whether the defendant violated their probation or parole. Although Gagnon II hearings function like a trial, the state has a lower burden of proof than in a criminal trial. The state only needs to prove that a defendant committed a violation by a “preponderance of the evidence” rather than the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard of a criminal trial. This makes it much easier for the prosecution to secure a conviction for a probation or parole violation than for an underlying criminal charge.
Dedicated Legal Representation for Probation/Parole Violations
If you face accusations of violating your probation or parole, a probation violation attorney from The Zeiger Firm can defend your rights and fight to resolve your charges. A lawyer for probation violations will ensure that the court system treats you fairly and provides you with due process throughout the violation proceedings. Due process in a violation proceeding includes the right to understand the nature of your alleged violation, the right to legal counsel, and an opportunity to present evidence and witnesses in your defense.
An experienced probation violation attorney can review the facts of your case to explain the allegations against you, the potential consequences if the court finds you violated your probation or parole, and possible defense strategies available to you. If appropriate, your attorney can negotiate to minimize the consequences of your violation, including advocating against the imposition of prison time.
Navigating the Philadelphia Probation/Parole System
The Adult Probation and Parole Department (APPD) handles the administration and oversight of probation and parole services for the Philadelphia Criminal Justice System. APPD staff supervise defendants on probation or parole or who receive a county or probationary sentence. They help defendants get back on track and lead law-abiding lives by providing various treatment and support services. However, they may report incidents when defendants violate the conditions of their probation or parole.
The APPD has six divisions, four of which provide supervision services that ensure defendants follow the probation or parole conditions imposed by the courts. The other two divisions oversee supervision support systems and training/policy development.
The APPD also has specialized units for offenders who have committed specific crimes or who have specific treatment needs, including:
- Alcohol High Safe Driving Unit – Oversees DUI offenders and runs the DUI Treatment Court
- Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition – A diversionary program available to first-time non-violent offenders
- Center for Adult Education – Provides educational and literacy programs for defendants
- Community Service – Arranges for court-ordered community service obligations
- Domestic Intervention Supervision – Oversees defendants involved in family violence or who have a mental or physical condition that interferes with traditional supervision
- Fraud Unit – Oversees defendants convicted of defrauding state agencies
- Gun Court Program – Oversees defendants convicted of firearm offenses
- Intermediate Punishment Unit – Oversees offenders in inpatient drug or alcohol treatment or on house arrest
- Sex Offenders Unit – Supervises offenders convicted of sex offenses
Defendants can give themselves the best chance of completing their probation or parole and avoiding violations by taking advantage of treatment and support services offered by the APPD, ensuring compliance with reporting schedules, maintaining stable housing and employment, and limiting contact with acquaintances still involved in criminal activity.
Contact a Probation Violation Lawyer
If you face charges of probation or parole violations, you need experienced legal counsel to help you protect your rights and freedom. Contact The Zeiger Firm today for a free, confidential consultation to speak with a probation violation lawyer about your legal options.