There are more than two million people incarcerated in the U.S and approximately 4.7 million individuals under some form of community control such as probation and parole. In 2016, it was estimated that nearly 2% of the population was either on probation or parole. Each year an estimated 350,000 individuals on probation or parole are incarcerated for violating the provisions (conditions) that are imposed. If you have allegedly violated your probation in Burlington County, New Jersey, you should consider how to best defend yourself and your rights. There is much at stake, both immediately and for your future.
Probation vs. Parole
Probation is the most common time of “correctional control.” It allows offenders to remain in their community while being supervised by a probation officer. The court may order probation for a period of up to five years.
Parole is community supervision that applies specifically to those being conditionally released from prison. Offenders on probation and parole both may potentially have their supervision revoked and be incarcerated. This would result from a probation violation.
Common Conditions of Probation
- To maintain employment and satisfy family obligations
- Undergo physical or psychological assessment and/or treatment
- To submit to drug screening (testing)
- To participate in vocational training
- To reside in “a facility established for instruction, recreation, or residence” for those under community supervision
- To avoid “unlawful or disreputable” individuals and establishments
- Not to possess firearms or other dangerous weapons
- Allow for your probation officer to visit your home
- Pay and fines or restitution
- Pay a monthly fee of up to $25
- Complete any required hours of community service
Summons or Arrest of Defendant on Probation (2C:45-3)
A defendant that is currently on probation may be summoned for an appearance in court or have a warrant for their arrest issued. The defendant may be arrested if probable cause exists to believe they have violated the provisions of their probation or have committed a subsequent offense. This determination applies to probation and peace officers. The arrest may be conducted without a warrant.
The defendant may be placed in custody without bail while awaiting a court appearance. The court may revoke the defendant's probation and/or a suspended sentence for failing to comply with the conditions of probation or having been convicted of another crime. Revocation of probation and/or a suspended sentence may not be imposed solely for a failure to pay fines or restitution—unless it was done willfully.
A defendant may be resentenced for their original offense. Suspended sentences and/or probation may not be modified or terminated without a court hearing. The defendant will be presented with written grounds for such changes. In any such hearings, defendants may be represented by an attorney and may present evidence in their defense.
What are Possible Consequences or Penalties you Might Face?
If, during your hearing, the Burlington County judge does find that you have violated your probation, there are multiple ways that he or she might proceed during the sentencing portion. Perhaps the worst possible option would be if the judge chose to completely resentence you. The penalty you might face there could be harsher than your original sentencing. Any plea bargains from your original case are also no longer relevant.
For example, if you were originally sentenced to probation for two years (as part of a plea agreement) instead of a maximum sentence of five years, the judge could choose to sentence you to five years, and you would have to begin all over again for your time served. Other, less severe options include imposing new conditions to your probation, extending the period of your probation, or removing conditions from your probation.
Lesser Standard of Proof for Violation of Probation Hearings
Criminal charges in Burlington County must be proven using the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard. In court actions that pertain specifically to violations of probation, a lower “preponderance of the evidence” standard is employed. “Preponderance of the evidence” indicates that there's greater than a 50% chance that the charge occurred. The burden of proof is lower, which means that it is easier to be convicted at a violation of probation hearing. This is one reason that those accused of violating probation should always seek experienced legal representation. A seasoned lawyer in Burlington County, New Jersey, who understands how to best organize a defense against a probation violation will be able to fight on your behalf.
Can I Appeal a Violation of Probation Hearing?
If you are unhappy with how the VOP hearing in Burlington County went, you may appeal it. It's possible to appeal both the sentence and the finding. If you choose to do so, you must file a Notice of Appeal within forty-five days. An experienced New Jersey attorney will be able to advise you as to whether or not your case qualifies for an appeal. If you've already faced your hearing and wonder whether or not your case can be appealed, do not wait to reach out to a lawyer.
New Jersey Lawyer for Probation Violations
Individuals under active supervision from a probation department may face harsh penalties for failing to comply with the conditions. The same applies to those who have been charged with a subsequent offense while on probation. Joseph D. Lento is an established attorney with a unique understanding of these scenarios because he was employed as a probation officer early in his career. He brings heart, dedication, and experience to every client interaction and will not give up fighting for his clients. If you've been charged with violating probation in Burlington County, New Jersey, don't wait any longer. Call the Lento Law Firm today at (888) 535-3686 for a case consultation or reach out to us using our online form.