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Hiring A Probation Violations Attorney in Los Angeles

Updated: Nov 17, 2022

How To Handle Probation Violation Charges In California?


Suppose you are convicted of failing to comply with one or more points of your probation agreement. In that case, you may face the entire penalty that you escaped through probation, plus additional time for the probation violation. When it comes to meeting with a competent Criminal Defense Lawyer as soon as possible to escape additional fines, you cannot afford to delay.


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Instead of imprisoning a person, the court can grant probation, which allows them to return to their daily lives with certain restrictions. If inmates violate the terms of their probation, they can face serious consequences. Even if it was a minor infraction, the person could be sent back to jail or prison to complete the remainder of their original term, as well as fines, extra community service, or other penalties.


Parole and Probation


The distinctions between probation and parole are sometimes misunderstood. Both impose restrictions and limitations on a person due to a criminal conviction. Conditional restrictions related to early release from prison are normally part of parole. Probation is a type of conditional behavior that is used to avoid going to jail. Depending on the criminal case, the terms of an individual's probation and parole differ greatly. Furthermore, the criminal judge has a lot of leeway in deciding what conditions to impose on the person awaiting probation or parole.


Probation


A court can impose one of several forms of probation, each with its own set of conditions. Formal probation entails meeting with a probation officer on specific days and times. You would not normally meet with a probation officer while you are on informal probation, which allows you to fulfill those conditions. Staying within a certain distance of a fixed spot, securing and retaining jobs, and preventing any more criminal charges are all possible criteria. Failure to comply with these conditions can result in probation violation charges.


Different probation requirements can apply depending on the severity of the crime. A person charged with a misdemeanor will almost certainly be placed on informal probation for up to three years. The court will usually require the individual to appear in court regularly so that the judge can reevaluate the case. Judges are given a lot of leeways when it comes to assigning requirements under California Penal Code 1203, which gives them a lot of leeways. Fines, restraining orders, arrest warrants, drug or alcohol abstinence, community service, and participation in services related to the crime are some of the options.


Many that are convicted of a crime face up to 5 years of mandatory probation. Individuals will be assigned a probation officer to whom they will report every month. The probation officer will ensure that their charge is following all of the rules, and they will be able to do so by verifying your jobs, performing drug tests, and conducting probationary searches of your personal belongings. Consider one of our prescreened California Lawyers in your California Attorney Search.


1. Informal Probation


Informal probation, also known as court probation or a conditional penalty, is most commonly used in misdemeanor cases. Anyone convicted of a first-time DUI has an informal probationary period. You are not supervised by a probation officer while on informal probation. In most cases, you must obey all laws and court orders, pay the fines and penalties, and meet any other court directives, such as attending a DUI school.


Many individuals on informal probation are unaware that they are already subject to the court's jurisdiction. You will be charged with both the new crime and probation violation if you are convicted and charged with a new offense while on informal probation.


2. Formal Probation


Almost anyone who is sentenced to probation for a felony is put on formal supervised probation. You will be put on formal probation if you are convicted of a misdemeanor domestic violence charge. The court may place you on formal probation in other misdemeanor cases that the court considers severe, such as child abuse or neglect and some misdemeanor sex crimes.


You will be assigned a supervising probation officer with whom you can maintain daily contact while on formal probation. You could be in breach of probation if you do not meet with your probation officer or keep him or her up to date on your whereabouts. If this occurs, an arrest warrant will be given, and you will lose your liberty.


What will my probationary period entail?


Probation usually entails following all rules and upholding good behavior. If you're on probation for a driving-related violation, you won't be allowed to drive until you have a valid driver's license and insurance. If drugs or alcohol is a factor in your conviction, you may be ordered to stop drinking, avoid areas where alcohol is the main item for sale (no bars or liquor stores), and not use or possess any drugs unless approved by a doctor.


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You could be subject to "search and seizure" as part of your probation. This term refers to the right of law enforcement or a probation officer to search you, your belongings, or your car at any time of day or night, as well as your home at an appropriate hour of the night. Once law enforcement knows you're on probation, they don't need a reason to search you.


California's AB-1950


Before the reform in the law, misdemeanor probation was usually three years long, while felony probation was usually three to five years long. Misdemeanors will receive a one-year sentence, while felonies will receive a two-year sentence under the new legislation.


The aim of AB 1950, as confirmed by the legislature and Governor Gavin Newsom recently, is to lower recidivism rates. Many claim this does not help minimize crime rates but encourages offenders to roam freely. This could not be more untrue. In reality, it is incredibly difficult to find work, accommodation, education, and even student loans while on probation. Allowing a person to live with the stigma of probation for many years decreases their chances of becoming productive citizens. Probation without a job, a home, or the opportunity to learn hurts the person on probation and the families who depend on the probationer.


Misdemeanors


AB 1950 amends Penal Code 1203a to limit most misdemeanors to one year of probation. PC 1203a now reads as follows (emphasis added):

The courts of all counties, towns, and counties with authority to impose punishment in misdemeanor cases may refer cases, demand reports, and do and warrant anything necessary to carry out the purposes of Section 1203, insofar as that section applies to misdemeanors. For a period of not more than one year, the court may suspend the imposition or execution of the sentence and make and enforce probationary conditions.

Any crime that requires specific probation lengths under its terms is exempt from the one-year probation cap in subsection (a).


Felonies


In terms of criminal charges, AB 1950 reduces most felony charges' probation to two years. PC 1203.1(a) is (partially) amended:


In the order granting probation, the court or judge may postpone the imposition or execution of the sentence and may direct that the suspension continues for a duration of not more than two years and on the terms and conditions that it determines. In the order granting probation and as a condition of probation, the court or judge may detain the defendant in a county jail for a period not exceeding the maximum time allowed by law in the case.


AB 1950 exceptions


When someone is accused of a violent crime, the statute does not apply in felony cases (commonly referred to as strike offenses). You might not count under the new law if you pleaded guilty to residential burglary, theft, or even threats. Depending on the charge, you also can not count if you have a burglary fee, and the amount stolen was over $25,00.00.


"The one-year probation cap in subsection (a) shall not extend to any crime that requires specific probation lengths under its provisions," says 1203a(b) for misdemeanors.


The two-year probation period does not extend to the following felonies, according to 1203.1(m):

  1. An offense specified in subdivision (c) of Section 667.5 and an offense with special probation length requirements. In the order granting probation, the court or judge may postpone the imposition or execution of the sentence for these offenses and may direct that the suspension continues for a duration not exceeding the maximum practicable term of the sentence and under conditions that it shall decide. All of subsections (other provisions apply).

  2. If the gross value of the property taken exceeds $25,000, a criminal conviction for paragraph (3) of subdivision (b) of Sections 487, 503, and 532a. In the order granting probation, the court or judge may postpone the imposition or execution of the sentence for these offenses and may direct that the suspension continues for a duration not exceeding three years and under such terms and conditions as it shall decide—all of subsection (other provisions apply).


Hearings on Probation Violations


A judge can revoke your probation if you are accused of violating your probation due to a finding of probable cause. You are entitled to a hearing within a reasonable time if your probation is revoked.


If you are convicted of breaching criminal probation, you can be held in jail without bail, pending the outcome of your case. Unlike a criminal charge, the case will be heard by just a judge, not 12 jurors. At a breach of probation hearing, the prosecution has a lower presumption of evidence. The standard is a preponderance of the facts rather than proof beyond a reasonable doubt like you would get in a jury trial. Prosecutors may want to prosecute a breach of probation rather than a new charge because the burden is less onerous for them to fulfill.


Probation breaches are not taken lightly by the courts or lawyers, and you should not either. If you have been convicted of violating your probation or believe you will be accused of violating your probation, you can speak with a Criminal Defense Lawyer as soon as possible. While Google is useful for general information, you should not attempt to navigate California criminal law without the assistance of an experienced law firm.


What are the most common probationary offenses?


Depending on the nature of the offense for which someone has been sentenced, the exact terms of probation will differ from one person to the next. Probationary periods will, in most situations, contain the following:

  • Unlawful searches and seizures of your person, car, and home

  • Making amends for the crime that was committed

  • A prerequisite to be working or enrolled in education

  • a requirement to abstain from drinking or using drugs

  • Orders to avoid interaction with the perpetrated crime's victim(s)

Any breach of a probationer's conditions will almost always result in a probation violation hearing and the likelihood of probation being terminated instead of a jail or prison sentence.


Will I be required to appear before a probation officer?


Whether or not you must report to a probation officer during your probation period is largely determined by the offense for which you were sentenced. When you are convicted of a crime, you may not be required to report to a probation officer in most cases, but you will be required to appear in court for daily progress reports. If you are convicted of a crime, you must regularly report to a probation officer.


You may be charged with probation violation for a variety of reasons, including:

  • If you do not complete a recovery program or community service hours, you will be charged with a misdemeanor

  • You don't check in with the probation officer or show up for a progress meeting in court

  • You neglect to keep a safe distance from armed people, or you are caught with illegal drugs or weapons

  • You commit a new offense or are convicted while on probation, even though no charges are filed.


Violating Your Probation's Terms May Have Serious Consequences


If you've been convicted of breaching your probation, you should know that the severity of the penalty is determined by the extent of the offense and the severity of the criminal case. You may be given a second opportunity for minor infractions, but for more serious offenses, you may be re-arrested and given a court date for a formal trial. The prosecutor must prove that you violated the terms of your probation at this trial. You could face several penalties if you are found guilty, including:

  • Term of detention in a county jail or a prison

  • Probation duration lengthened with additional conditions

  • Volunteering in the community, doing community service, or enrolling in a recovery or therapy program are all options


Your Hearing's Findings


The judge's decision on how to weigh the relevant factors of your case will eventually determine the result of your probation violation hearing. The prosecutor can also make a sentencing recommendation to the court.


The following are some of the factors that can influence your sentence:

  • How many times you've broken your probation

  • If the probation breach is related to a new crime

  • The gravity of such infractions

  • The probation officer's or department's attitude

  • Circumstances that are either mitigating or aggravating


Exemptions for DUI and Domestic Violence


As you can see, there is an extra exception in all misdemeanor and felony cases. The shortened probation periods do not apply where the offense "requires special probation lengths within its terms," as stated in each statute. Put another way, if a statute specifies a probation period, the clause would precede the new legislation.

Drunk driving and domestic abuse are two examples (both can be a misdemeanor or felony charges). A mandatory probation period is explicitly stated for each offense (three to five years). It's unclear why AB 1950 didn't consider reducing the probation terms on these charges as well. In these types of cases, the same issues occur as they do in most misdemeanor or felony offenses. However, given the advocates of drunk driving and domestic violence, the legislature obviously did not want to be seen as overly lenient on crime in these situations.

However, with each exception, problems arise. What provision applies if an individual is charged with a felony, and then the charge is reduced to a lesser offense with no mandatory probationary period? I can say that the new legislation applies in situations where someone pleads to a lesser crime, such as driving while intoxicated (DUI cases) or simple battery (domestic violence). If the legislature went to great lengths to allow exceptions, it might have simply specified that the law applied to lesser included crimes. When dealing with DUI and domestic abuse situations, a second issue arises. Will the district attorney only reduce the charge if the defendant agrees to a longer probation period? The language is a little hazy, and only time can tell if the courts will follow the plain language of the law or the prosecutor's interests. The same issues will likely continue to trigger needless probation breaches in our courts and overcrowding in our prison system until the term of probation is set to a shorter duration for all offenses.


A judge cannot automatically imprison you for an alleged breach of your probation. During a probation termination hearing, you will have the opportunity to defend yourself. Consider this hearing to be a mini-trial. Both you and the state will have the opportunity to provide facts to support your case and argue your side of the story. A judge will listen to your story, weigh the facts and evidence, and make a decision about your future.


What Will Happen if I Disobey My Probation Conditions?


A judge will make a decision about your future after your counsel and the state prosecutor have made their cases to the court. Three different outcomes can occur as a result of this:


No Changes to Probation: If there is no proof that you violated your probation or the violation was minor, a judge can simply reinstate your probation's original terms.


Change of Terms: If the judge determines that you have violated your probation but does not believe that incarceration is the appropriate solution, he or she will simply change the terms of your release. This could result in your probation being extended or you being forced to complete additional conditions (e.g., counseling, drug testing, consenting to searches, verifying employment).


Probation Cancellation: Serious probation violations will result in your supervised release being revoked entirely. If this occurs, you will be sentenced to the same punishment that you would have received if you had committed the original crime.


Suppose you were arrested, charged, and found guilty of shoplifting. Shoplifting is punishable in California by six months in jail or three years of informal probation. Initially, you were sentenced to probation. You break the terms of your probation by failing to attend mandatory therapy sessions. A judge determines that there is no fair explanation for this breach at your revocation hearing, revokes your probation, and sends you to prison.


Expungements and the End of Probation


You must file paperwork to get your probationary period shortened if you are still on probation and were granted a longer probationary period. If you've already been on probation for longer than the new legislation requires, you might be entitled to have your probation terminated. Before going to court to decide the correct course of action for you, several questions must be answered.


Do you think your case qualifies for a probation sentence reduction? Consult a Criminal Defense Attorney to see whether you qualify because, as you can see, there are many exceptions to the rule, and you don't want to waste your time and money if you don't.

  1. How long did you have to be on probation before you were sentenced?

  2. Have you been on probation for a long time?

  3. Do you think you're already on probation?

  4. Is your probation term still active, or has it ended under the new laws?

  5. Do you want to simply cancel probation, or would you like to terminate and expunge your record once you pass the probation period under the new law?

  6. Do you apply for an expungement if you still want one?

Terminating probation and expunging your record can be difficult, but it does result in a positive outcome. You will guarantee that your probation is correctly terminated and expunged by contacting an experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer.


Bringing Probation to an End (For Those Already on Probation)


When you ask a judge to end your probation, you request that the court no longer supervise you. By ending your probation, the court will no longer be able to control your conduct, and you will no longer be in danger of violating your probation. Since the probation term has expired, probation will usually expire independently. You might ask the court to end your probation early in certain cases. Before the new rule, you had to wait at least a year for the court to take the petition into consideration. In most cases, judges seldom grant these motions, and when they do, it's typically because of extraordinary circumstances.


AB 1950 is being applied retroactively


Even though the legislation is still being worked out, many judges are already issuing guidance that the law is retroactive, and some have even begun to issue shortened probation sentences. Judges are known to take their time before enforcing the statute; many believe the law is retroactive and are interested in granting motions to shorten the length of probation.


The good news is that if judges continue to rule that the statute is retroactive (which makes sense given the law's goal of reducing recidivism) if you are already on probation for a qualifying crime, you can file a motion to get your sentence reduced to one year (misdemeanor) or two years (felony) (felony). You could be entitled to end probation and have your convictions expunged from your record if you have been on probation for longer than the new term.


Expungements


You must also seek expungement after your probation is revoked, either on its own terms or because you filed the requisite paperwork and received a court order terminating probation.

An expungement is a court order that clears the name of all allegations. A conviction in our state will remain on your record until you take action. That means you'll have to file paperwork with the court and, in most cases, have a judge hear your case and see whether you're qualified for your record to be expunged. In most cases, you will end your probation and get your record expunged at the same time.

You can legally claim that you have not been convicted of a crime if the charges against you are dropped. This is critical when you're looking for a career, accommodation, college, or student loans and want to eliminate the stigma associated with your conviction. However, there are several considerations to consider when petitioning for an expungement, and it is important to consult with a Criminal Defense Attorney to ensure that you qualify.


At a Probation Revocation Hearing, What Rights Do I Have?


You have certain legal protections because your probation revocation hearing is a formal legal action. These rights include the ability to:

  • At the hearing, have a Criminal Defense Attorney represent you

  • Subpoena and call witnesses to testify under oath

  • Examine the state's witnesses and cross-examine them

  • In your defense, present facts

  • Make a case for any mitigating factors that may be relevant to your case; and

  • Obtain some proof that may be used against you

Your Criminal Defense Attorney will ensure that you have the opportunity to exercise these crucial privileges.


In California, what are the most common probation violations?


It's important to note that no matter how minor any of the conditions of one's probation seem to be, one must adhere to them all. Even a minor, accidental error could result in your probation being revoked and you being returned to jail. The following are some of the most common probation violations:

  1. Failure to appear in court on a specified date

  2. Failure to appear in front of a probation officer

  3. Failure to agree to a drug test or refusing to submit to a drug test

  4. Failure to agree to a probation search or refusal to do so

  5. Being detained for the first time on a new criminal charge


What's the difference between a jury trial and a hearing on probation?


There are a few main distinctions between a probation hearing and a criminal trial. A judge oversees and decides on a probation hearing first. A probation hearing does not require a jury. Second, guilt is not required to be proved beyond a reasonable doubt. A preponderance of the facts may be used to convict someone of violating their probation.


In other words, even though the breach cannot be proved beyond a reasonable doubt, a judge may conclude that the evidence against you shows that you most likely did violate your probation. In a probation hearing, the prosecution's standard of evidence is even lower.


Violating Probation or Parole

  • If you follow the terms of your parole or probation, fulfill all of the conditions, and remain out of jail for the duration of your probation or parole, your probation officer or parole officer will be able to sign off on your probation or parole, allowing you to resume your regular life. However, if you break the terms of your probation or parole at some point, you risk being sent back to prison.

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  • If a probationer's conditions are broken, the probation officer can report it, which may result in an arrest warrant. A probation violation hearing between the probation officer and the judge is normally the product of a violation. During this hearing, the judge can keep the probation, adjust it depending on the alleged breach, or fully revoke it, which would almost certainly result in prison time.

  • The parole officer will inform the court when a parolee's terms and conditions are broken. The parolee could be remanded back to prison if a warrant for their arrest is issued. Following the scheduling of a parole violation hearing, the judge will decide whether to reinstate the terms of parole, change the terms of parole, or revoke parole and return the parolee to prison to finish their sentence.

Even though a probation or parole violation hearing is not the same as a court hearing, you also have the right to have a Criminal Defense Attorney present. You will be able to appeal the findings of a probation violation hearing, and your counsel will be able to help you from going to jail.


Facts about the California Parole Board


The California Parole Board is an administrative body with laws and procedures that vary from those of the Supreme Court. It is important to have a Criminal Defense Attorney familiar with Parole Board cases in every case before the California Parole Board.


If a felony or misdemeanor probationer fails to complete a condition of probation, he or she may face significant jail or prison time. Frequently, there are plausible reasons for the suspected breach. Bear in mind, though, that a Judge has most likely heard any reason for noncompliance a thousand times. It takes a skilled Criminal Defense Attorney to convince a Judge that there is reasonable cause this time and that continuing on probation rather than suspension and prison time is the better option. A probation enhancement can be obtained if the probationer's conditions of probation are causing him or her unnecessary hardship.


A probation breach may also result from a client's inability to follow all laws while they are convicted for a new offense. Under these conditions, two felony lawsuits are still pending, one for probation violation and the other for the latest criminal offense. The probation breach will almost certainly be revoked if the new offense is dismissed. However, it is important that the two separate cases be coordinated so that there are no contradictory court orders.


In California, how do I get a Probation Early Termination?


Probation will limit you in a variety of ways. It may keep you from traveling, relocating for work or to be closer to family, or even keeping a job. It also makes it difficult to live a normal life and get back on track after your conviction. However, in California, you can end your probation early in some cases. Talking to a Criminal Defense Lawyer is the best way to get started.


How will I get out of probation sooner?


Both types of probation may be costly, inconvenient, and disruptive to your life. If you want to leave your probation early, you can ask the judge to do so. Technically, you can do this at any time after you've been convicted, but in reality, you'll need to wait at least a few months to demonstrate that you're not re-offending and are leading a healthy, law-abiding life. Otherwise, the judge would most likely deny the appeal.


When you ask for early termination, remember that the judge will make the final decision. The judge can change or terminate your probation, but only if it is in the best interests of justice.


You or your counsel must file a petition with the court to apply. The measures are as follows:

  1. In the court where you were convicted/sentenced, file a motion for early termination.

  2. Before the hearing, give the prosecutor at least two days' notice.

  3. Assemble supporting proof, such as:

  4. You must have evidence that you have not re-offended or committed any new crimes

  5. You must have proof that you have no other pending criminal matters

  6. Proof that you've met all of your probation's court-ordered conditions

  7. You must have proof that you have made restitution to the victims (if restitution was ordered)

  8. Evidence that you are working, involved in the community, and leading a responsible life may also be beneficial. Letters from clergy, colleagues, or community leaders (or even neighbors) can make a significant difference in your situation.

If you haven't had any probation violations, your request for early termination is more likely to be granted, but you can apply regardless—you'll just need to prove that you've straightened out.


What to Think About When Hiring a Probation Attorney


Your probation attorney will provide you with:

  • Assist you in getting probation or parole.

  • Represent you at your Board of Parole hearing in California.

  • If you've been convicted of violating the terms of your probation or parole, your attorney will represent and defend you at your probation or parole violation hearing.

Before you hire a probation attorney, make an appointment for an initial consultation. This is your opportunity to speak with a Criminal Defense Attorney, ask questions, and decide whether you want the Criminal Defense Attorney to represent you.


When making a hiring decision, keep the following in mind:

  • What is the attorney's experience representing clients in cases similar to yours? You may not want to employ a Criminal Defense Attorney who specifically represents people convicted of parole violations if you're looking for someone to represent you at a parole hearing.

  • How much does it cost to hire a Criminal Defense Lawyer? Legal fees differ from one Criminal Defense Lawyer to the next. Make sure you know how much you'll have to pay the lawyer and what services are included in that sum.

  • Is the lawyer reputable, and would you feel at ease having him or she represent you? Your freedom is practically on the line regarding parole and probation. You want to employ a Criminal Defense Attorney in whom you have confidence.


Find A Probation Violations Lawyer in Los Angeles


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