Boston Probation Violation Lawyer / Probation Violation Defense in MA
When you are on probation, you are required to comply with the terms of your probation contract. Standard probation terms generally require you to “obey all laws,” “report regularly to your probation officer,” and “pay a probation supervision fee.” Often the contract will include specific conditions like “perform community service,” “write a letter of apology,” or “attend AA meetings.” You need to comply with every term of your probation contract in order to avoid arrest and other potential penalties.
If you fail to comply with the terms of your contract, you can be charged with probation violation. Common probation violations include: failing to report to your probation officer, missing payments to the court, leaving the state without permission, failing a drug test, and new criminal charges. Once your probation officer is notified of your alleged violation, he or she may file a “surrender notice” to compel your appearance in court. This notice explains your alleged violation to the judge, who may issue a warrant for your arrest, or summons you to appear in court.
Even relatively minor mistakes or misunderstandings can result in a probation surrender hearing, and the consequences can be severe. You should go into a probation violation hearing with an attorney who is knowledgeable about the process. In many instances, I can negotiate with your probation officer or present evidence of extenuating circumstances that might allow you to avoid being sentenced to a period of incarceration. In some cases, alternatives options should be discussed, such as community service, restitution, or drug counseling.
The Initial Surrender Hearing
Usually, there are two hearings involved when a person is accused of violating their probation. At the first hearing, you will be brought before the judge and notified of the alleged violations. Your probation officer will typically summarize the surrender notice, and the judge will then determine whether or not there is probable cause to believe that you did violate a term of your probation.
At this hearing, the judge will also determine whether you will be held in jail without bail until the final surrender hearing. If your probation officer recommends that you be held, and the judge finds you to be a danger, then you could be taken into custody at the end of this hearing. The stakes are high, and you should therefore retain an experienced criminal defense attorney to represent you at this hearing.
The Final Surrender Hearing
At the second hearing, your probation officer will likely be prepared to have witnesses called to testify against you. Your attorney will have the opportunity to cross-examine those witnesses, and may call witnesses to testify on your behalf. If there is strong evidence that you did violate a term of your probation, the focus may instead shift to the consequences. In certain cases, it might be in your best interests to stipulate to a violation of probation and negotiate a compromise with your probation officer as to your punishment. However, even if your attorney negotiates a good disposition with your probation officer, the judge must accept the recommendation.
The standard for a violation, known as probable cause, is very low. Therefore, it is imperative that anyone facing a probation surrender hearing retain a Massachusetts Criminal Defense Attorney to protect your rights.