Probation Violations in Rhode Island
Rhode Island Probation violations represent a serious problem for those on probation. If you or someone you know has a potential or pending probation violation, that person is going to need to retain a talented and experienced Rhode Island Attorney like Susan T. Perkins, one who can demonstrate a proven track record of success in defending such violations, whether technical or substantive, in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut.
While a person is on probation he is assigned a probation officer to whom he or she must report. A person who is on probation is also subject to a number of restrictions, that might include a curfew, the requirement to stay in school or at work, or other conditions. Also, a person on probation is expected to avoid further criminal activity or get rearrested.
What is a Violation of Probation?
If someone fails to abide by any of the conditions of probation, his or her probation officer has the power to file a Violation of Probation with the Court. When this happens, the person is usually brought before a judge and is presented with a violation of probation.
There are essentially two categories of potential violations. First there are “technical” violations related to following administrative requirements like reporting to the probation officer as directed, or having a dirty tox screen. Second, there are more “substantive” violations like committing a new crime while on probation. Although “technical” violations may seem less important than violations related to the commission of new crimes, both can serve to violate a person on probation equally.
Also, a person can be violated on probation at any time during the course of probation and still face the same amount of punishment for the violation. This means that if you violate probation on your first day of probation, you face the same amount of time for violating that probation as you would for violating probation on the last day of probation. In other words, you don’t get credit for time served for time you spend outside of jail on probation.
Rhode Island Probation Violation Hearing
A person who is violated on probation is entitled to a hearing on whether or not he actually violated probation. The probation violation hearing is conducted without a jury. The judge decides the facts and determines the outcome. In order to find a person guilty of violating probation, the judge need only decide the case on the burden of proof called “preponderance of evidence.” Essentially, that means that if the judge believes that the person probably did what probation says he did to violate probation, then the judge will find him guilty. Because the burden of proof with respect to the violation is so low, and because the judge is the finder of facts, the judge’s decision in a violation of probation hearing is realistically almost unappealable.
Therefore, most violations are resolved by agreement with the judge under the theory that whatever can be agreed to in advance of a formal hearing will be a better deal than the likely sentence after forcing the judge to conduct a formal hearing. You need an experienced attorney like SUSAN T. PERKINS to advocate on your behalf.
Rhode Island Probation Violation Penalties
The range of possible sentences for a violations depends on the crime to which the defendant originally pleaded guilty.
For example, suppose defendant pleads guilty to a non-violent felony and is sentenced to 5 years probation. The original plea was to a non-violent. The maximum sentence on a plea to a non-violent is 5-15 years in prison. Therefore, if he violates probation at any time for the next five years (even after 4 years, 11 months, and 29 days), the defendant could be sentenced by the judge to up to 5-15 years in prison.
Many times people are violate probation for seemingly minor “technical” reasons like failure to report or testing positive for drugs and/or alcohol. In such cases it is often possible to convince the judge to agree to give the defendant another opportunity. In extremely minor cases, some judges might even agree simply to dismiss the violation and restore the defendant to probation right there and then.
On other occasions the judge may want the defendant to plead guilty to the violation of probation, but agree to hold off on sentencing. The defendant is then monitored in court periodically to make sure he continues to do the right thing. If the defendant satisfies the court that he is back on track, the sentence becomes to restore the defendant back to probation. If the defendant continues to perform unfavorably, the judge then usually discontinues probation and imposes a jail or prison sentence.
When defendants violate probation because of new arrests, some special difficulties are presented. Given the complexity of criminal defense in general and probation violations in particular, it is vital that you choose a probation violation lawyer who combines experience with a good track record, a thorough understanding and familiarity with the law and the local courts, and a commitment to each and every client. If there is an alleged violation of probation against you, your time to get the right experienced criminal defense attorney is limited.
The Law Offices of Susan T. Perkins, Esq., PC has successfully represented numerous clients who have had probation violations throughout the States of Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Susan prides herself on aggressive representation with a personal touch. Armed with the knowledge and experience to build a winning defense, SUSAN T. PERKINS is accustomed to taking on the criminal justice system and achieving the best results for her clients.
If you have been charged with violating your probation call Rhode Island Probation Violation Attorney Susan T. Perkins at (401) 324-2990 today for a FREE consultation.