If you have been convicted of a crime and received probation, it is important to realize that not everyone is so lucky. Probation is generally available only for minor crimes, often limited to misdemeanors or for first-time criminal offenders. Not everyone is eligible for probation. People with extensive criminal records or who have committed major offenses aren’t likely to get probation.
Probation is, in essence, the deferment of your criminal sentence. If you comply with the terms of your probation, you will not have to serve the sentence you otherwise would have had to serve. Always possible with a probation violation is that the court will revoke your probation and you will have to serve the full sentence you otherwise would have faced. But will you necessarily get jail time if you violate your probation for the first time? The answer is maybe.
What Is Probation?
Probation is an alternative to a jail sentence. In general, a judge will order probation in Illinois for minor offenses or where the offender demonstrates a willingness to be rehabilitated. Probation keeps an offender out of jail, but it comes with conditions. Those conditions can include going to rehab, undergoing regular drug or alcohol testing, keeping a job, or living where the court directs. The court can order supervised or unsupervised probation, and the offender may be required to provide proof that an offender met all of the conditions of probation. Probationers may be required to show proof to the court that they have complied with all conditions of probation. Failure to follow the conditions can result in all kinds of legal consequences, including jail time.
What Can Happen to Me After a First-Time Probation Violation?
Illinois is like most states when it comes to probation. Violators who are on probation will have to comply with a number of conditions. The probationer likely will have a curfew, be required to avoid the victims of their crimes, undergo regular drug testing, go to rehab for substance abuse if appropriate, undergo counseling, perform community service, and maintain employment or participate in job-search programs. Often, people on probation may not use alcohol or drugs, own firearms, or cross state borders without permission. Those on probation also often are required to pay fines, attorney fees, or restitution.
Further, probation in Illinois generally requires reporting to a probation officer on a regular basis, often at least once a week, and sometimes more. Probationers usually have to certify in some way to their probation officer that they are complying with the conditions of their probation. In general, violating any condition of probation is considered to be a violation of probation.
If an Illinois offender on probation is suspected to have violated a condition of probation, the consequences can vary widely. The probation officer may decide that a warning is enough. On the other hand, the probation officer could decide a warning is insufficient and require that the alleged violator appear in court for a hearing before a judge. At that hearing, the judge will decide whether a probation violation occurred. At that point, the prosecution has to file a motion to revoke probation before the court can do so. That sparks another hearing to make a ruling on the motion to revoke probation. The probationer and the prosecution will have the opportunity to present their cases, and the probationer is entitled to legal representation.
The results of the judge’s finding of a probation violation can vary from case to case. The results can range from complete revocation of probation—resulting in the probationer serving the entire jail sentence for the offense for which probation was originally substituted—to brief jail time, an extension of the term of probation, or adding more conditions to the probation.
The decision will hinge largely on the nature of the violation. There are revocable offenses and technical violations. Revocable offenses generally consist of conviction of another crime, which almost always leads to revocation of probation and going to jail for the full sentence that was deferred pending successful completion of probation.
Technical violations, other the other hand, can include such things as not making all payments on any required fines, court costs, attorney fees, and the like, missing appointments with your probation officer, positive drug or alcohol test results, missing court-ordered rehab sessions, or other minor violations of probation terms that do not involve criminal activity. Such violations rarely result in jail time or revocation of probation. However, it is possible that the court could add time to your term of probation for such violations.
Probation Revocation and Jail Time Aren’t a Given for a Probation Violation
If you have violated the terms of your probation but have not received a conviction of another criminal offense, you have a good chance of avoiding jail time. However, you are unlikely to achieve that result on your own. That will take the assistance of experienced counsel. You have the right to legal representation at a probation violation hearing, and you should take full advantage of that right. Considering the long-term costs of probation revocation and the subsequent jail term, obtaining counsel is well worth the investment. You should make sure you get someone with the experience to help you get the best result in your situation.
If You Are Facing a First-Time Probation Violation in DuPage, Kane, or Cook County, Consult the Criminal Attorneys of Martin & Kent, L.L.C.
If you are on probation and facing a probation violation hearing, you also could be facing a stint in jail. You need counsel with experience in probation violations, which means you should call the criminal attorneys of Martin & Kent, L.L.C. They have extensive criminal law experience, including time as felony prosecutors, giving them inside knowledge of the system. They will represent you aggressively and are committed to delivering the best possible result. For a consultation in DuPage, Kane, or Cook County, contact them 24 hours a day at (630) 474-8000.