Receiving a sentence of probation after a criminal conviction can be a tremendous relief. With probation, you serve your sentence in your own home and community instead of behind bars. You can sleep in your own bed and be with your family. You may be able to continue working or looking for work.
On the other hand, probation does not mean your troubles are behind you. It is likely that your probation came with certain terms with which you must comply if you hope to remain out of jail. Violating these terms can result in harsh penalties and potentially the loss of your freedom.
What is a violation?
If your probation officer learns that you have violated the terms of your court order, he or she may give you a warning, and you may not receive any further penalties. If you receive a request to appear in court, you have more to be concerned about. Your probation officer may believe the violation warrants further penalties, depending on the circumstances. Some examples of probation violations include the following:
- Neglecting to attend your scheduled meetings with your probation officer
- Failing any drug or alcohol tests the court orders
- Not appearing for any appointments for which the court schedules you
- Leaving Missouri without your probation officer’s permission
- Failing to pay any court-ordered fines or restitution related to your conviction
- Associating with people or in places which the court specifically forbids
You may also find yourself in violation of your probation if police arrest you for any other offense, even a minor traffic infraction. In fact, if you are on probation, you should not be surprised if police are more likely to detain you for even minor offenses.
What happens now?
A probation violation that lands you in front of a judge can have several different consequences. The judge may find you guilty of violating your probation, in which case you may end up back in jail. You may even have additional time to spend behind bars as a consequence of your violation. The judge may have other options, such as sending you to a rehabilitation program, ordering community service, confining you to home or imposing a fine.
You have the right to defend yourself against charges of probation violation. You will want the court to know any extenuating circumstances or other factors that apply to your situation, which may affect the court’s ruling. You also have the right to an attorney to represent you in court.