A probation revocation, also known as a probation violation ("PV" or "VOP"), occurs when a defendant has violated any of the conditions or terms of probation, whether it is formal or informal probation, or when a defendant has committed a new crime while on probation. A simple arrest on the new crime is sufficient to trigger a probation revocation even if there is no prosecution or conviction on the new crime.
A revocation of probation can be commenced by the court or judge, the prosecutor or the probation officer. If the defendant is believed to have violated any of the terms or conditions of his or her probation a letter could be sent from the court or the probation department indicating the time and place for the probation revocation. In some cases, the defendant could be arrested and taken to jail and then brought to court. At the hearing, the prosecutor must present evidence to prove the defendant's violation of probation. The defendant in turn may present evidence and or witnesses to challenge the prosecutor's evidence or show a legal defense for the alleged probation violation. At the conclusion of the hearing, the judge must be convinced by a preponderance of the evidence that the defendant violated his or her probation.
In some cases, defendants may want to admit to violating probation rather than insisting on having the hearing. This is the time when the criminal defense attorney can weigh the advantages of going forward with the formal hearing or negotiating a favorable disposition for the defendant. Given the current situation in many courts, where the courts' calendars are heavy, judges and prosecutors may be more amenable to settling the violation matter for a lighter sentence or no sentence at all when a defendant simply stipulate or admit to the probation violation.
Some of the possible scenarios that can occur when the judge finds the defendant in violation of his or her probation include:
- Revoke probation and sentence the defendant to county jail or state prison;
- Reinstate probation on the same terms and conditions; or
- Reinstate probation and impose new terms and conditions such as additional fines, community service or community labor (e.g., CalTrans) and extend the time of probation.
If you or someone you know is facing a possible probation revocation, consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney to learn about your legal options.