Probation represents another chance at freedom, but with numerous strings attached. One slip-up and that freedom could disappear. For those on probation, the importance of abiding by specific conditions – many of which are court-ordered – cannot be stressed enough. And many conditions go far beyond simply obeying the law.
Probation violations run the gamut
Probation violations occur in a number of ways, depending on the offense and situation. Some include:
1. Failing to maintain regular contact with your probation officer: Your probation officer – along with a judge — holds the keys to your fate. He or she serves as a guide, adviser, enforcer and conduit between you and the judge. An effective relationship is important.
2. Missing court dates: Punctuality is critical, and you want to make the best impression on the judge and your probation officer.
3. Failing to pay court-ordered restitution: This, too, is an obligation that was part of your sentencing. Your probation officer and the court may listen to you if you inform them that you did not intentionally fall behind on restitution payments because you lost your job or face medical bills.
4. Failing to meet treatment requirements: This may include in areas related to mental health as well as rehabilitation for alcohol, prescription drugs and controlled substances.
5. Failure to retain a job or not attending school: These may be obligations that are part of your probation terms.
6. Leaving the state: While on probation, you are told to remain in the state. The only exception is if you gain permission from the court or your probation officer.
7. Moving to a new address: Your dwelling must receive approval from your probation officer. If you want to move, you must promptly inform the probation officer about the location as well as living arrangements such as whether you have roommates.
Innocent violations do occur
In some situations, probation violations happen because of circumstances outside a person’s control. Sometimes individuals simply cannot pay a court-ordered fine, fee or payment due to loss of income or inability to find a job. In other situations, an individual may show up late to an appointment with his or her probation officer due to a traffic jam or roadway incident.
These and many instances can result in unintentional probation violations. Sometimes people can work with their probation officers but other times they can’t.
Fighting a probation violation
Even while you are on probation, you have rights under the law. Kathleen Kirchner served as an assistant state’s attorney for Anne Arundel County prior to defending clients at Kathleen M. Kirchner, Esq.. She knows the law and understands the system.