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If you’ve been convicted of a criminal offense, there is a possibility that the court will suspend your sentence in favor of a probation period. You may breathe a sigh of relief, as this can feel like a second chance for many people. However, the terms of your probation could be very strict. Even if you try to adhere as closely as possible to the terms of probation, it is possible to face technical violations of your probation. If this happens, you could face rearrest and a probation violation charge. In order to avoid a prison sentence and to fight for your legal rights, speak with a Phoenix probation violation lawyer.
The criminal defense attorneys at Ybarra Maldonado Law Group have extensive experience defending our clients against probation violation charges. If you’re facing charges for violating probation or facing probation revocation, we’re here for you. A qualified criminal defense lawyer with our law firm will examine the facts of your case and determine the best course of action. To schedule an appointment with us, please call our Phoenix law office at 602-910-4040 today.
What Is Probation?
Probation is a way for those convicted of criminal charges to stay in the community instead of going to jail or prison. Other terms for it include community supervision and community control. However, in order to remain in the community, you must strictly adhere to the terms of your probation. Supervised probation involves following certain court-ordered rules and meeting with a probation officer at specified times. Some of the most common conditions listed in the terms of probation include the following.
- Community service
- Regular meetings with probation officers
- Not using drugs and excessive alcohol
- Appearing at every probation hearing in court
Some criminal charges require the defendant to attend a preliminary hearing. If you have been informed that you must attend one of these hearings, you may start to wonder, “Can you go to jail at a preliminary hearing?” Read our related blog to learn more about this topic.
ARS 13-901 outlines Arizona’s laws regarding probation and probation violations. Under Arizona Revised Statutes, certain crimes qualify for probation periods. Lengths and types of probation in Arizona depend on a number of factors. Thus, it can be difficult to understand the terms of your probation period without the help of an experienced attorney.
How Does Probation Work in Arizona?
The terms and conditions of your probation depend largely on the facts of your individual case. In other words, probation terms are determined on a case-by-case basis. One person may have relatively relaxed terms of probation that only last for one year. However, they only committed a Class 3 misdemeanor. If someone commits a Class 6 felony in Arizona, they face three years of probation.
Additionally, certain crimes are not eligible for probation at all in Arizona. These charges require jail time. Examples of crimes not eligible for probation are dangerous crimes against children and violent crimes. In this case, to avoid jail or prison, you and your attorney will need to fight to have your charges reduced. However, even in the best possible outcome, you might face up to seven years of intensive probation.
What Is Standard Probation in Arizona?
This depends on the severity of the crime for which you are on probation. Standard probation periods depend on whether the offense was a misdemeanor or a felony, as well as the class of the crime. Below, we outline the standards for probation periods in Arizona.
- Class 1 Misdemeanor: Three years probation
- Class 2 Misdemeanor: Two years probation
- Class 3 Misdemeanor: One year probation
- Class 1 Felony: Class 1 felonies are not eligible for probation in Arizona.
- Class 2 Felony: Seven years probation
- Class 3 Felony: Five years probation
- Class 4 Felony: Four years probation
- Class 5 Felony: Three years probation
- Class 6 Felony: Three years probation
Types of Probation in Arizona
The state of Arizona has three types of probation. These types are supervised, unsupervised, and intensive probation. The terms of probation usually vary depending on the classification of the crime. A more serious crime will have stricter probation terms. Below, we outline the differences between the three types of probation in Arizona.
It is very uncommon for someone to receive unsupervised probation terms. Basically, unsupervised probation means that, while you still have to follow the terms of probation, you don’t have to regularly check in with your probation officer. This type of probation is usually reserved for low-level offenders.
This is the most common form of probation. You must adhere to the terms of your release and regularly check in with your probation officer. Often, there are other terms, such as community service hours or counseling sessions.
This is the strictest form of probation in Arizona. It involves paying what is called restitution to the victims of the criminal act. Restitution is basically like paying damages to the victims, much like in a personal injury case. In most cases of intensive probation, the person on probation doesn’t have as much freedom. They can usually go to work or school, but nowhere else. Additionally, they usually have to provide some kind of restitution for the community and frequently report to their probation officer.
What Is a Probation Violation?
If a judge decides to suspend your sentence and place you on probation, it is imperative that you adhere to the terms of your probation period as closely as possible. Some of the terms that you might have to adhere to include the following.
- Reporting to your probation officer when directed
- Staying within the jurisdiction
- Not committing a new crime
- Not possessing any weapons or firearms
- Reporting to the probation office
- Performing community service obligations
- Taking drug and alcohol tests when directed
- Allowing random searches of your person or property
- Paying alimony or child support, if applicable
- Any other conditions imposed by the court
If your probation officer or another agency believes that you violated probation, you will need to attend a probation violation hearing. You will likely spend your time before the hearing in jail. However, if the probation violation is relatively minor, you might just receive a court summons for the probation violation hearing.
Why Are Probation Violations Not Uncommon?
Unfortunately, some probation violations are very common, as life isn’t predictable, even for those on probation. Sometimes, things happen that prevent you from meeting with your probation officer or from getting to your court hearing. However, this shouldn’t mean that you should suffer severe punishment. For example, even getting a traffic ticket counts as a technical violation of your probation.
If for some reason, a violation occurred that you could not prevent, we recommend contacting a criminal defense attorney. Without aggressive representation, you could face serious consequences for the violation.
Probation Violation Sentencing AZ
After you violate probation, your probation officer can file a Petition to Revoke Probation. They can also put out a warrant for your arrest. When you are arrested, you will usually be held without bond until your court hearing. Your first court date after the arrest will be the arraignment.
During the arraignment, the defendant either admits their guilt or requests a hearing for their violation. The hearing will feel more like a traditional criminal court proceeding. The prosecuting attorney calls witnesses to testify about the defendant’s probation violations. What makes these violation hearings so difficult is the fact that hearsay evidence is allowed.
However, we recommend finding a good lawyer who can present evidence that contradicts the evidence against you. Having a defense attorney fight for your freedom could mean the difference between staying in your own home and going to jail or prison.
Once the judge makes their decision, one of two things will occur. If the judge determines that you did violate your probation, they will then proceed with the Probation Violation Disposition. Alternatively, they could keep you in custody until they set another court date for the Disposition.
What Happens at the Disposition?
The disposition is basically the sentencing for a probation or parole violation. The judge has several options in terms of sentencing.
- First, they could revoke your probation. Having a revoked probation means the early termination of your probation period and prison time. The sentencing will come from the original sentencing range for your case.
- The judge could also reinstate the probation for the terms you already had. You would basically restart the probation period.
- Lastly, the judge could increase your probation by either adding more terms or by placing you on intensive probation. This means you would be on house arrest, and you would need to call your surveillance officer every time you leave home, and much more.
Do I Need a Probation Violation Attorney?
If you are arrested for allegedly violating your probation and found guilty, you could face very severe consequences. For this reason, it is imperative that you work with a law firm and take legal action to defend your rights. Even if your violation is due to a technicality, it’s never worth risking your freedom to handle it alone. You have the right to qualified legal representation for probation violation charges.
Can an Attorney Negotiate a Probation Violation?
Yes, absolutely. An attorney can have more success negotiating with the court in many cases. For example, maybe your violation relates to a missed payment. In this case, your attorney can negotiate with the court for more time to make your payments. Having an attorney advocate and present evidence to support you is invaluable, and it can help you avoid prison time. Additionally, attorneys are well-versed in all the valid defenses that you can use in your case. We explore these defenses in the next section.
Defenses Against Probation Violation Charges
Depending on the reason for your alleged violation, your attorney can come up with a number of defenses. Below, we list common violations and the possible defenses for them.
- You missed a meeting with your probation officer. There are many valid reasons for this, including car trouble, forgetfulness, and many others. If you’ve attended every other meeting, your attorney can argue that this was a one-off unintentional violation.
- You failed to pay certain court-ordered fees. Many people cannot afford to make these payments. Your attorney can gather your income and spending records to prove that you simply can not afford to make certain payments right now. However, keep in mind that the courts will look at your records very carefully. Unnecessary expenses, such as new clothes, would work against you in this case.
- You failed a sobriety test. Not everyone is required to submit to sobriety tests while on probation. However, those convicted of drug or alcohol-related charges are likely to have these tests as a part of their probation terms. Your attorney could argue that your prescription medications caused the positive test results. The goal is to either retest and get a negative result or to prove that the positive result came from another source other than drugs or alcohol.
- You were arrested for another crime during probation. The first thing your attorney will do is likely to ask that the court wait until your new case is resolved. If you are found not guilty of these new charges, you won’t have violated your probation.
Contact a Phoenix Probation Violation Lawyer Today
If you’re facing severe penalties for alleged violated probation, you deserve to have a fighting chance at maintaining your innocence and freedom. The Phoenix criminal defense lawyers with Ybarra Maldonado Law Group are highly experienced in defending the accused. We understand that, in many cases, a simple misunderstanding or a false accusation can be the difference between freedom and incarceration. That’s why we’re here to offer our skills and experience to help you fight for your rights. To schedule an appointment with us and establish an attorney-client relationship, please call our Phoenix law office at 602-910-4040 today.
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