Probation Violations: What to Expect

If you or a loved one was given probation, the judge who handled your initial case probably described what your probationary period would consist of. He or she probably set forth certain rules that you were supposed to follow, such as meeting with a probation officer on a regular schedule, abstaining from drugs and alcohol and following all laws.

The types of consequences that you are facing depend on several factors, such as the seriousness of your violation, whether you have previously violated probation and the nature of the violation.


If this is the first time that you have violated probation, you may receive a warning from your probation officer. The officer may want to keep the judge from having a bigger case load if the violation was not as serious. The officer may warn you of consequences that you may suffer if you continue to violate probation. If you do not get yourself into any more trouble after this warning, you should not have an issue.

Community Service

A probation officer may order you to perform community service. This is meant to rehabilitate you or correct the behavior.


If your probation violation involved drugs or alcohol, such as you being found in possession of drugs or failing a drug test, your probation officer may order you to rehab. If you refuse, you may wind up in jail instead.


Another option that is sometimes available to probation officers is to order counseling services. A probation officer may order counseling services if there may be an underlying mental or emotional reason for the probation violation or ongoing problems in the individuals’ life who is serving probation.


In some situations if you violate probation, you may be expected to pay additional fines. This may be a fine that you must pay to the victim of the original crime or the crime that caused you to violate probation. In other instances, you may pay the fine to the court itself.


Some types of probation violations or subsequent probation violations may land an individual in jail. This is usually for a brief period of time to punish the individual for bad behavior.

Increased Probationary Period

In some instances, a probation officer may believe that a particular individual is not ready to completely reenter society without supervision. As a result, the probation violation may result in a longer period of time in which the individual will be on probation.

Revocation of Probation

A judge may order your probation revoked. If this occurs, you may have to serve the remaining amount of time of your original sentence allowed by law in jail.

New Charges

If the probation violation consisted of committing another crime, you will also face new charges based on that crime. Your criminal history may be taken into consideration by the prosecution when determining the charge and the potential punishment that it seeks.

Other Consequences

State and federal laws state the potential punishments that probation officers and judges can order if an individual violates probation. Other consequences may be imposed and are only subject to the maximum limits prescribed by state or federal statutes.

Probation Violation Hearing

In some situations, a person may be ordered to attend a probation violation hearing. Probation officers usually have broad discretion in warning the individual who violated probation or imposing one of the consequences listed above.

However, some probation officers may find that the nature of the probation violation, its severity or a history of probation violations warrants the need for a probation violation hearing. You are entitled to written notice of the violations that you are accused of committing.

You are also entitled to be represented by an attorney during this type of hearing. You can present evidence during the hearing, as well as ask for witnesses to testify on your behalf or to refute allegations made by the prosecution. If you are ordered to a probation violation hearing, the burden of proof is only by a preponderance of the evidence, a much lower standard than beyond a reasonable doubt.

The probation officer may request a specific type of penalty, including jail time. A sentencing judge hears the case to determine whether the prosecution has met its burden. Again, the judge considers the nature of the probation violation, severity of the violation and any history of previous probation violations. Additionally, the judge may consider any mitigating factors. If the judge finds that you did indeed violate the terms of your probation, the judge will impose some type of sentence shortly after this hearing.

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Disclaimer: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication at the time it was written. It is not intended to provide legal advice or suggest a guaranteed outcome as individual situations will differ and the law may have changed since publication. Readers considering legal action should consult with an experienced lawyer to understand current laws they may affect a case.

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