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What Happens If You Violate Probation in California?

what happens if you violate probation

Probation is a common alternative to jail time in California, allowing those convicted of crimes to serve their sentences under supervision in the community instead of behind bars.

While probation offers a chance to maintain work, family ties, and freedom, it also comes with strict conditions and requirements. Failing to comply with these terms can lead to serious consequences, including the possibility of having your probation revoked and being sent to jail or prison.

Types of Probation in California and Their Conditions

When you’re placed on probation in California, the specific conditions you must follow depend on the type of probation the court imposes. Probation comes in various forms. It can be informal or formal. Informal probation or “court probation” is typically reserved for low-level offenses such as misdemeanors.

A probation officer is not assigned, and the key goal is to complete your terms and stay out of trouble during the term of probation. Formal probation, on the other hand, requires a far more structured approach with an assigned probation officer and periodic check-ins.

Misdemeanor Probation

Misdemeanor probation tends to be informal in most scenarios and, the associated conditions must be fitting and proper for the interest of justice and reasonably related to the offense. Typical conditions include paying fines and restitution, participating in classes or therapy, completing community service, seeking employment, and complying with stay away orders..

DUI Probation

If you’re placed on DUI probation, the conditions can vary depending on whether it’s your first, second, third, or subsequent offense. However, common conditions for most DUI probations include not committing any additional offenses, not driving unless properly licensed and insured, submitting to breath or blood tests if arrested for suspicion of drunk driving, and not driving with any measurable blood alcohol content (BAC) under California’s “zero tolerance” law for DUI probationers.
Violating any of these conditions can result in the court finding you in violation of your probation, which can lead to serious consequences.

Felony Probation

Felony probation is often formal probation and typically involves more stringent conditions. These may include regular meetings with a probation officer, paying restitution, undergoing therapy or treatment programs, submitting to drug tests, weapon restrictions, search and seizure clauses, and adhering to stay-away orders to avoid contact with victims.

Common Ways to Violate Probation

There are many ways someone can violate the terms of their probation in California. Some of the most common probation violations include:

  • Failing to report to your probation officer as scheduled
  • Not completing court-ordered programs like community service or rehab
  • Associating with known criminals or gang members
  • Getting arrested for a new crime while on probation
  • Failing drug/alcohol tests or possessing illegal drugs
  • Traveling outside the jurisdiction without permission

Any of these actions can be considered a violation of probation and trigger the probation revocation process.

Probation Violation Process in California

If your probation officer has reason to believe you have violated the terms of your probation, they will file a notice of violation with the court. The court will then issue a bench warrant for your arrest, and a probation violation hearing will be scheduled.

At the hearing, the prosecutor must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that you committed the alleged violation. This is a lower standard than the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard used in criminal trials. You have the right to be represented by an attorney at the hearing, and your attorney can present evidence and argument on your behalf.

After considering the evidence, the judge may mandate:

  • Reinstatement of probation
  • Extension of the probation period and the addition of more restrictive conditions
  • Full revocation of probation

The specific consequences you face will depend on the nature and severity of the violation, as well as whether you were on probation for a felony or misdemeanor offense.

Defenses Against Allegations of Probation Violation

If you are accused of violating your probation, there may be defenses available to you. Some potential defenses include:

  • False accusations lacking credible evidence
  • Unintentional or minor violations due to miscommunication
  • Substantial compliance with the primary terms of your probation
  • Extenuating circumstances, such as a medical emergency or coercion
  • Illegal search and seizure of evidence by your probation officer

Our experienced criminal defense attorneys at The Nieves Law Firm can help you identify and present the most compelling defenses in your case.

Don’t Let a Probation Violation Derail Your Future – Call The Nieves Law Firm Today

If you are facing allegations of a probation violation in California, the stakes are high. A misstep could mean fines, extended probation, stricter conditions, or even jail time. But you don’t have to face this challenge alone.

Our attorneys can:

  • Carefully review the alleged violations and the prosecution’s evidence
  • Gather evidence and witnesses to refute the allegations
  • Present mitigating factors to argue for leniency
  • Negotiate with the prosecutor for a favorable plea bargain
  • Argue to reinstate your probation on the same or modified terms

At The Nieves Law Firm, we have extensive experience representing clients accused of violating their probation in California. We understand the stress and uncertainty you may be feeling, and we are here to guide you through the legal process and fight for the best possible outcome in your case.

If you have been accused of violating your probation, don’t wait to seek legal help. Contact us today to schedule a consultation with one of our criminal defense attorneys.

Author Bio

Jo-Anna Nieves is the Founder and Managing Attorney of The Nieves Law Firm, an Oakland criminal defense law firm she created in 2012. With more than 11 years of experience in criminal defense, she has zealously represented clients in a wide range of legal matters, including DUIs, domestic violence, expungement, federal crimes, juvenile law, motions to vacate, sex crimes, violent crimes, and other criminal charges.

Jo-Anna received her Juris Doctor from the Florida State University College of Law and is a member of the State Bar of California. She has received numerous accolades for her work, including being named a Super Lawyer Rising Star the past 8 years, the #12 Fastest Growing Law Firm in the U.S. by Law Firm 500 in 2019, and one of the fastest growing companies in the U.S. by Inc 5000 in 2023.

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