If you are unfortunate enough to have had a small hiccup while on probation and are now facing an angry judge and prosecutor looking to put you in prison, don't despair. Following the five strategies listed below, you will give yourself a chance to win your probation violation hearing and stay out of jail.
5 Strategies to Win Your Probation Violation
1. Prove That You Did Not Actually Violate Your Probation.
At a probation violation hearing, a judge essentially makes two determinations: 1.) Did you, in fact, violate the terms of your probation? and 2.) If so, what punishment should you face as a result. That's it. If you can convince the judge that your probation officer is wrong and that you did not actually violate your probation in the ways they are saying, then your probation is continued and punishment isn't even addressed. While this is the best result for someone facing a violation, it is also the result that happens less frequently.
2. Fix the Violations That Can Be Fixed.
In the most basic terms, to “fix” the violation means to go do the thing that the judge ordered you to do in the first place prior to your probation violation hearing. Examples? Examples: If you owed $1,200 in restitution for the TV you stole and pawned, find a way to pay that money. If the judge ordered you to do 100 hours of community service but as of this date you have done 4 hours, you need to do 96 hours as soon as possible. You get the idea.
3. Work to Address Your Failings.
Obviously, not every probation violation can be fixed. If you tested positive for meth on a routine probation urinalysis test, you cannot go back in time and make that test negative. Unless you have a time machine – in which case I would advise you to go back in time and not commit the offense for which you are on probation in the first place. Also, get rich by betting on sports. You should do that too. But, in this non-time machine scenario, your only option is to show the judge that you are working to fix your problem. Did you drop dirty? Go to treatment. Attend 2 NA meetings every week. Voluntarily take drug tests and pile up a bunch of clean tests. Whatever you have to do to convince the judge that, while you messed up, you are working your tail off to better yourself.
4. Make a Positive Contribution to Society.
The end game for any probation violation hearing is the judge's decision of whether to throw you in prison or not. The math of that decision is actually pretty simple: Is the community better off with you in prison? Or is it better of with you in the community? If at the time of your probation violation your greatest contribution to the community is that you've mastered Call of Duty while sitting on your mom's couch, you're in trouble. But, if you are spending your time at a job, taking care of your children, and volunteering in the community, you just might have a shot!
5. Seek Out Quality Mentors.
Your prospects of staying out of prison increase greatly when you have someone in the community come into court and vouch for you. A pastor. A small-business owner. The leader of a non-profit. Whomever. Surround yourself with these people and work your ass off to impress them. Prove to them that you are worthy of staying in the community, and they will help you prove it to the judge by vouching for you in court.
If you are on probation and the prosecutor has filed a motion to revoke that probation, don't panic. So long as you are breathing non-prison air, you have a chance to improve your situation. Doing the 5 things above will almost certainly increase your odds of staying out of prison. If you have questions about the probation system, your probation violation hearing, or need advice on your particular case, I'd love to talk to you about it.
The Glaesman Law Firm, LLC is a full-service criminal defense law firm with offices located in St. Louis and St. Charles, Missouri. If you or a loved one has been charged with a crime or is facing a probation violation hearing, contact us right away to discuss your options.