What Happens if I Fail a Drug Test While on Probation?


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Probation after or in place of other sentencing from a conviction of a criminal action usually requires the person to remain sober, in the same state where he or she received the conviction and free from additional participation in criminal activity. Failing a drug test could lead to complications and possible negative impact on current or previous possible sentencing.

The terms and conditions of probation periods usually consist of remaining sober, a lack of criminal circumstances and periodic checkups with a probation officer. The individual may need to remain in the state he or she received the conviction. Any other conditions may arise based on the state or judgment of the probation in lieu of further sentences behind bars. The probation officer usually performs standard and regularly scheduled checkups to check for alcohol consumption and drug usage. The person on probation needs to adhere to all federal and state laws to include a lack of using illicit substances.

The Warning

While there are severe consequences for probation violations from drug use, some individuals may only receive a warning the first time the probation officer discovers these circumstances. The seriousness of the crime usually invokes more severe punishments. If the very first violation is the only issue, a warning may issue as the only consequence. The person may need to only have consumed drugs. However, if he or she is caught trafficking, distributing or eliciting a minor, he or she may return to prison immediately. Once a first warning occurs, the person should refrain from all drug usage.

Community Service and Rehabilitation

If the probation officer believes that the person under a probationary period has what it takes to kick the drug, he or she may issue community service after the first warning. This action is to try to rehabilitate the person or attempt to correct the behavior. However, if that does not help, or the probation officer believes another program is important, he or she may send the person to a rehabilitation system instead. This is for instances of possession of drugs, failure on a drug test or if the person is found consuming alcohol or drugs. However, any refusal to attend will usually result in jail time.

Counseling Services

Some options that are available when rehabilitation fails may include counseling. If the probation officer discovers a mental or emotional trouble with the person, he or she may order counseling services to determine how to assist the individual through the drug problem. After discovering what the root cause of the consumption of illicit substances or the need to drink alcohol, the person may work through the issue with the counselor. In some circumstances, this could lead to full recovery and situations where the person is able to break away from his or her life of crime.

The Consequences through Fines or Jail

When the person in the probationary period fails a drug test, he or she may have several options to face depending on the probation officer. However, violations of probation could lead to additional fines in excess of the court fees, fines and other necessary payments. This could result in amounts owed to the victim of the illegal action or if another person has involvement in the drug issue. If no other parties exist that require payment, the fine may go to the courts for violation. This is often above other necessary fees and could incur a greater or lesser amount than previous fines.

If the probation officer feels there is a need for rehabilitation or that the root of the criminal behavior has nothing to do with drugs, he or she may recommend time in jail. Most often, the period the person will remain in a county jail has a limitation of only a few days or weeks. The intended action is to curve the behavior and try to avoid any future punishment. The jail time could demonstrate to the person on probation that he or she may return to prison if he or she does not clear up his or her activity. Another consequence that may coincide with others is an increase in the probationary period.

Legal Support for Drug Tests while on Probation

Some drug tests provide the individual with false results. To avoid additional charges, increased sentencing or other consequences, it is important to consult with a lawyer. It is possible the legal representative may pursue action to help the client avoid the penalties issued.

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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer.

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