More than 6.7 million adults in the U.S. are under some type of correctional control. Of the total of 6.7 million, roughly 55% of the individuals are on probation, and approximately 11% are on parole. Parole is granted to an offender that is being “conditionally” released from prison. Both probation and parole have rules (conditions) that must be followed. If the conditions are not followed, the offender may have these privileges revoked.
If you live in Camden County, NJ, and are facing a probation violation, it's important to be aware of several things. You don't have to (and shouldn't) face this challenging time alone. An experienced probation violation attorney will be able to assist you in navigating the judicial system.
Potential Conditions That May Be Imposed for Probation
- The individual must maintain employment and meet family obligations
- May be required to submit to physical or psychological testing and/or treatment
- A required to submit to drug screening (testing)
- Participation in occupational or vocational training or education
- Requirements to live in “a facility established for instruction, recreation, or residence” for those under correctional control
- To have no contact with “unlawful or disreputable” individuals or visit such establishments
- Prohibited from possessing or owning firearms or other dangerous weapons
- Permit your probation officer to visit you at home
- Payment of all court-imposed fines or restitution for victims
- To pay monthly probation fees of up to $25, which may be waived by special order
- To complete a specified number of community service hours
The conditions of probation may not be imposed that create an “unreasonable” burden on the defendant. Those who are convicted of a crime who are placed on probation may also be sentenced to incarceration for a period of up to one year. Defendants that are placed on probation after being convicted of a disorderly person offense may also have a sentence of up to 90 days in jail imposed.
What is Noncompliance? How Does it Impact Probation in Camden County?
A defendant on probation may have their conditions modified or their probation terminated for noncompliance. This may occur if significant conditions are violated or if the defendant is convicted of another criminal offense. A peace or probation officer may cause a warrant to be issued for the defendant's arrest if they have reason to believe that a violation has occurred. However, 2C:45-3 in the New Jersey Statutes states that “A probation officer or peace officer, upon request of the chief probation officer or otherwise having probable cause to believe that the defendant has failed to comply with a requirement imposed as a condition of the order or that he has committed another offense, may arrest him without a warrant;” This means that if your probation officer believes you have violated the terms of your probation, they may arrest you without obtaining a warrant for your arrest.
The accused may be held in custody without bail while a court hearing is pending. The accused may be represented by legal counsel at a violation of probation (or VOP) hearing. In these hearings, the burden of proof required is the lesser “preponderance of the evidence” standard.
Those who violate their probation may have sentences imposed for their original charge(s). The court will present the grounds justifying their actions to defendants in writing. Probation will not be revoked for failing to pay fines or restitution unless the defendant is acting deliberately.
What Happens at a Violation of Probation (VOP) Hearing?
Although your original case may have been held at a Superior Court before a jury of your peers, with a VOP hearing, a single Camden County Superior Court Judge will preside. Sometimes the hearing will even occur with the same judge who was present at the original case. Clearly, in those instances, the judge might have a tendency to take the hearing very seriously.
The actual VOP hearing has two parts to it and occurs after your probation caseworker files a VOP complaint with the court. This results in a court hearing being scheduled, and if you choose not to attend the hearing, often the judge will issue a warrant for your arrest. The first part of the hearing is when the judge determines whether or not you actually violated your probation. If you plead guilty, then the hearing automatically proceeds to the sentencing (or second part). However, if you plead not guilty, then a VOP trial will take place.
A VOP trial is similar to a standard trial in that both your attorney and the State are able to present and cross-examine witnesses. However, as mentioned above, the standard of proof is different (preponderance of the evidence), and you do not have a right to trial by jury—the judge is the one who makes the final decision. With so much at stake, it's best not to attempt to defend yourself.
Importance of Retaining Seasoned Legal Counsel in Camden, New Jersey
The criminal court system considers allowing an offender to serve a period of probation as a privilege compared to incarceration. Those who violate the conditions of probation can expect to face harsh penalties. When choosing an attorney, it is important to choose one that is focused specifically on this area of legal practice.
Lawyer in New Jersey for Probation Violations
Have you been accused of violating the terms of your probation? Harsh consequences may potentially be imposed, particularly when facing new criminal charges. With so much at stake, it's important to consult with an attorney who works with clients in Camden County, New Jersey. Attorney Joseph D. Lento provides aggressive representation for clients in these matters and brings unique expertise from when he worked as a parole officer earlier in his career. For a case evaluation, contact the office at (888) 535-3686 today. You can also contact us online if you prefer.