Do I Have to Serve Time if I Violate Probation?

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Probation violations may lead to a number of penalties, but the individual may need to go back to jail or prison if his or her probation ends. However, if he or she commits another crime, this could lead to jail or prison when the initial conviction did not include a term behind bars, or it could increase the sentencing based on the circumstances.

The penalties attached to violations of probation include a range depending on the probation officer and the circumstances of the violation. Some offenses require greater action than others, and this could lead to time behind bars or with lesser infractions, just a warning. It is important to have a working relationship with the probation officer so that he or she is able to understand what happened and if further action is necessary. However, the breaking of probation terms and conditions may result in severe action even the probation officer is not able to stop. He or she may need to report the offense to his or her superior.

The Range of Penalties for the Violation

The usual first penalty that the probation officer usually gives is a warning if the offense is minor in nature. This could include lying, a lack of communication or when reported for actions that are not the fault of the individual. However, the probation member may face jail or prison time, fines, re-education programs, projects such as community service and rehabilitation. Counseling is also optional for certain issues such as mental conditions or addiction. These will depend on the officer and if the option is available in the local area. For harsher penalties, the probation officer may report the offense to his or her superiors and explain that something else may occur such as a probation revocation hearing.

Violations of Probation

While the conditions and laws pertaining to probation may change based on the state, the guidelines are generally the same. If the person ignores or avoids following conditions, he or she may willfully refuse to adhere to the guidelines. These are in place during the probationary period with all possible consequences that may occur for a breach or violation. The terms or conditions usually require the person to remain in the same state or city unless permission is given by the probation officer. He or she should refrain from drinking alcohol or consuming drugs unless he or she has specific allowances from a physician.

The degree of the violation usually increases the severity of the penalty and may include additional time in jail or prison or a sentence that leads to the same. If the probation member violates the terms of probation through committing a crime after he or she starts the trial time, he or she may face a revocation hearing immediately and end up in jail or prison. The condition to remain away from criminal activity or involvement in illegal actions is a general rule throughout the country. While jail or prison is possible, the individual may face a longer probation period with harsher consequences.

The Penalty of Jail or Prison

Depending on the circumstances, the violator of probation may suffer through a jail or prison term. This is usually if either of two actions occurs. If the person violates his or her probation to a severity that requires a resuming of his or her previous sentence that involved jail or prison, he or she may return to the facility. Additionally, if the person commits a crime that leads to a conviction and subsequent sentence with jail or prison, he or she will remain behind bars until either he or she acquires probation, or the sentence ends. If the violation of probation is proven invalid or the person is able to mitigate the damage, he or she may remain free from prison or jail.

Though there are several ways to violate probation, the judge in the hearing will need to determine if the person should return to jail or prison based on his or her actions, the circumstances of the violation and any previous factors. This could include the severity of the original crime and the actions or behavior of the convicted person while in the courtroom.

Legal Support for Probation Violations

Even if there is only a hearing for the violation, the individual should hire a lawyer. He or she may need to gather or present evidence and refute the violation or explain how the violation occurred and why.


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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