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Consequences of Violating Your Probation

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Probation is a non-incarceration option that allows you to retain your freedom instead of going to prison. Under probation orders, you will need to adhere to certain requirements and meet regularly with a probation officer. If you violate your probation or fail to complete certain requirements, you can face serious legal penalties.

Common Probation Requirements

After serving a criminal sentence, a Washington judge may order you to complete probation for a period of time following your release. A court may also sentence you to probation instead of incarceration. Regardless of the circumstances surrounding your probation, you will have to comply with strict requirements.

Common probation requirements include the following.

  • Paying fines to the state, or restitution to victims
  • Meeting with your probation officer regularly
  • Complying with all state and federal laws, no matter how minor
  • Taking regular drug and alcohol tests
  • Abstaining from drug and alcohol use
  • Avoiding certain people and locations
  • Attending scheduled court appearances
  • Engaging in community service
  • Attending drug or alcohol rehabilitation programs
  • Refraining from possessing any weapons

Each probation order is unique based on the circumstances of your conviction. Your probation period may last a year or two, up to several years or even the rest of your life depending on your charges. You will receive all of your specific requirements when the court issues the probation order.

What Happens If You Violate Your Probation?

If you fail to comply with the terms of your probation, re-engage in criminal practices, or begin associating with people involved in your crime, you can face additional legal consequences. According to Washington RCW 9.95.220, any peace or parole officer may rearrest you without a warrant in these situations. You may have to pay additional fines or stay on probation for a longer period of time than the original order outlines.

If your violation involves drug or alcohol use, the court may order you to attend rehabilitation or seek counseling for underlying mental health conditions. You may face additional jail time, or the court may revoke and terminate your probation. If the court terminates your probation, you will need to carry out the remainder of your probation period in prison.

How an Attorney Can Help During a Probation Violation Hearing

If the court or a probation officer accuses you of violating your probation terms, you will need to attend a probation violation hearing. You have certain rights available to you in these situations: the right to receive a written notice of the supposed violations, the right to an attorney, the right to a neutral judge, and the right to present witnesses and evidence in defense of yourself.

Although self-representation may seem like a viable option, hiring an experienced criminal defense attorney to represent you during your hearing will provide you with a number of important benefits.

  • Your attorney will understand the burden of proof necessary to prove that you committed a probation violation, and will utilize defense strategies to refute the prosecution’s claims in a convincing manner.
  • Your lawyer will have the resources necessary to launch an in-depth investigation into the charges you are facing and gather the evidence necessary to support your side of the story.
  • You may not understand the legal process you will need to undergo after an alleged probation violation. Your attorney will have supported multiple clients through this same situation, and can guide you through each step of the hearing process.

If you have not done so already, contact a probation violation defense attorney as soon as possible. Your lawyer will explain your next steps carefully, as well as inform you how to best protect your rights during this process.

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