Everything you need to know when facing a probation violation, and how we attack the issue head on to either vindicate you or mitigate your sentencing
What Does it mean to be on Probation in Michigan?
It’s important to remember that probation is “An act of grace and clemency which may be granted by the trial court to a seemingly deserving defendant whereby such defendant may escape the extreme rigors of the penalty imposed by the law for which he stands convicted.”
We encourage our clients to keep his in mind, advise them on how reduce their chances of violations, and defend them when violations occur
This is a list of conditions that must be included in an order of probation. The client must:
- not violate any law or ordinance;
- not leave the state without permission of the court;
- report as often as the probation office requires;
- pay the probation supervision fee;
- pay restitution;
- pay the crime victim’s rights fee under and minimum state costs; and
- if subject to the Sex Offenders Registration Act (SORA), comply with the act’s requirements.
Many other conditions may apply such as house arrest, community service, or drug treatment
Minor violations will be at the discretion of your probation officer, so it’s a good idea to stay in the good graces of your PO. If a major violation occurs, the court will issue a summons for the alleged violation. Many courts issue an order to show cause of the violation, which serves as the summons. Shortly after, an arraignment is held and we as your attorney advocate for leniency. However, the judge is more likely to listen to your PO so we will typically first contact your PO to see what their recommendations will be.
This is an informal hearing not necessarily subject to the rules of evidence or of pleadings applicable in criminal trials. Although we as your defense can present evidence and examine and cross-examine witnesses, it’s very important to remember that the state has the burden of proving a violation by only a preponderance of the evidence. This standard is very different from beyond a reasonable doubt and simply means more likely than not.
The preponderance of the evidence standard even applies if it is to determine whether a new crime was committed. Although there is no prohibition against a probation violation hearing being held before the conclusion of a newly charged case, many judges will allow you to adjourn the probation violation hearing until the new charges are resolved.
If convicted of the violation, you will have to appear at a new sentencing. The ultimate sentence that you may receive will depend on whether the case is in circuit or district court. Possible circuit court sentences include the following:
- county jail
- county jail with work release
- halfway house with drug or alcohol treatment
- jail with release to residential inpatient drug or alcohol treatment
- extended probation
- continued probation
- revocation of probation
- fines and costs
- community service
- specialized drug/alcohol/courts
The possible sentences in district court are virtually the same as in circuit, except for prison. The district courts also have specialized programs in each jurisdiction that may be available sentencing alternatives for the probationer.
What will we do as your Defense Attorney?
We will advise you on the best practices of staying off probation. Drug and alcohol testing is almost always a part of probation. These tests can and do make mistakes so having a backup drug/alcohol testing plan in place is imperative for instances when you fail your test. If you immediately go get a second test, and pass, you will most likely not be found in violation.
Having a good relationship with your PO is extremely important. We will advise you on how to make a good impression and ensure that your PO is focused on his more pressing probationers.
When a violation occurs we will be proactive by contacting your PO. We will advocate for leniency at the hearing and propose alternate recommendations to present to the court.
If our client insists that a violation did not occur than we will use every tool at our disposal to prove your innocence at your hearing.
Often times multiple violations occur. Even though it only takes a single violation to put you in violation of your probation, if we can get one of the more severe violations dropped, it will make a difference in sentencing.
Often our best approach is to do damage control early to get our clients another chance.
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Tel: (734) 263-1193