Probation Violation Attorney in Mercer County
There are currently an estimated 4.5 million American adults that are in a community supervision or community corrections program. The two primary types include probation and parole. Parole involves offenders that are being “conditionally” released from prison and re-entering the community. Each year, an estimated 350,000 offenders have their supervision revoked and are incarcerated in a jail or prison facility. Probation, on the other hand, is often a form of sentence that a judge imposes rather than incarceration. In New Jersey, a person can be on probation for anywhere from one year to five years. Whether you live in Trenton, Princeton, Hopewell, or any other city throughout Mercer County, if a judge sentences you to probation, you should follow the conditions that the judge outlines.
New Jersey Correctional Data for 2017
- Approximately 136,137 individuals were on supervised probation
- Roughly 15,180 individuals were transitioned from prison to their local communities under parole
- The prison incarceration rate was 217 people for every 100,000 residents
- The jail incarceration rate was 220 people for every 100,000 residents
Conditions Imposed in Adult Probation
The rules or conditions that may be imposed on those placed on probation may vary. New Jersey requires that a $25 monthly probation fee be paid. This fee is independent of any potential fines or restitution that the court may have ordered. Defendants will be required to regularly visit those that are assigned to supervise their probation. The supervisor may also visit them at their home.
The requirements may include that the defendant submits to drug screening. They may be ordered to undergo an assessment and treatment for alcohol and drug abuse. In some cases, the defendant may be required to live in a facility that is designated for those under community supervision. The individuals are expected to maintain employment or attend vocational training programs.
Offenders may be prohibited from owning or otherwise possessing a firearm or other weapon. They may be prohibited from “frequenting unlawful or disreputable places” or associating with individuals involved in such activities.
Other Potential Conditions for Probation in Mercer County, NJ
Although the above conditions are the most common, the judge in each original case has leeway to assign other conditions as they see fit. Some of the more common ones include:
- Community Service
- No Contact with the Victim of an Incident
- Anger Management or Drug Education Courses
- Mental Health Evaluations
- Follow a Curfew
- Attend Counseling or other Mental Health Services
Violations of the Conditions of Probation
If a probation or peace officer has sufficient reason to believe that a probation violation has occurred, the individual may be arrested. There may be a summons issued requiring a court appearance or a warrant issued for their arrest. In most cases, failing to satisfy financial obligations such as fines or restitution will not alone result in such actions.
After being arrested, the offender may be held in jail custody without bail as a court hearing is pending. Defendants that are ordered to appear for a probation violation hearing are entitled to defend against the allegations and to be represented by an attorney. Unlike standard criminal proceedings, a probation violation may be proven by the “preponderance of the evidence” rather than the higher “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard. Practically speaking, that means that the standard of proof is much lower at a violation of probation hearing than at the original hearing. There only needs to be more than 50% evidence that the violation may have occurred.
When the violation is significant, or the defendant has subsequently committed a criminal offense, the probation may be revoked. The court may order the defendant to then be resentenced for the original criminal charges. If the conditions of probation are modified, or the supervision is revoked, the defendant will receive a written statement that contains a summary that justifies the decision.
What Are Some Possible Defenses for Probation Violation?
There are many ways to potentially argue defense for a probation violation, and an attorney who's familiar with the statutes in Mercer County, New Jersey, will be able to advise you of what is applicable in your particular circumstances. However, here are some common approaches that may possibly apply.
- The alleged act(s) in the VOP complaint does not actually violate probation
- The violation was accidental or minor
- This is your first violation and is minimal
- The evidence of a probation violation is insufficient
Potential Penalties for Violating Probation
If a Mercer County judge rules that you are guilty of a probation violation, there are several options available to the judge as far as sentencing. Some of them have stronger repercussions than others. Here are a few of the options the judge may select:
- End your probation as being unsuccessful
- Impose new conditions to the terms of your probation, such as drug or mental health counseling
- Extend the original length of your probation. For example, if your probation had initially been for two years, the judge could extend it, but not to exceed five years.
- Continue the terms of your probation as they were before
Experienced Probation Violations Attorney in Mercer County, New Jersey
Violating the conditions imposed by your probation officer may have harsh consequences, particularly when facing new criminal charges. It's important that you consider hiring a lawyer who can assist you with the process. Joseph D. Lento is a criminal defense attorney that has represented many clients faced with violating their probation. He is passionate about defending his clients' rights and brings many years of experience to each case he encounters. For a case consultation, contact the office at (888) 535-3686 or reach out online.