DuPage, Kane, and Cook County Probation Violation Lawyers
Representing Clients Accused of Alcohol or Drug-Related Probation Violations
Probation terms for drug offenders will almost always require a person on probation to refrain from using drugs and alcohol for the duration of the probation period. The state checks to make sure that individuals on probation are complying with such requirements by conducting random breath and/or urine tests to detect alcohol or drugs. While passing drug tests may sound simple enough, many drug users often fail to realize how strong their addiction is, and many fail drug tests or will unsuccessfully try to beat the system to feed their addictions.
If authorities accused you of violating your probation for using drugs or alcohol, it is important to seek skilled legal representation as soon as possible. At the law firm of Martin & Kent, L.L.C., our attorneys understand how difficult probation compliance can be and how to defend against alleged probation violations. For more information, call our office to schedule an appointment to discuss your situation with an Illinois criminal defense attorney.
What Is Probation in Illinois?
If you decide to enter a guilty plea for a criminal drug or alcohol offense, or if a jury finds you guilty or convicts you, it ultimately falls upon the sentencing judge to determine the penalty in your case. In that regard, Illinois judges have wide discretion. Probation is often a better alternative to other penalties because it allows convicted drug and alcohol offenders the necessary time to rehabilitate themselves. It also allows them to avoid time in jail, maintain their employment, and provide support (financial and otherwise) to their family members.
- About 151,800 people were on probation at the beginning of the year
- About 79,200 people entered the probation system during the year
- About 80,200 people exited the system during the year
- About 151,300 people were on probation at the end of the year
Because so many people are involved in the probation system in our state, it is important to understand how the process works.
Probation officers typically undertake pre-sentence investigations and draft written reports that thoroughly review the offender’s family, criminal, and job histories. These reports also detail any history of drug and alcohol addiction or abuse in the offender’s background, any history of family abuse, and any history of mental health issues or treatment. The probation officer can then make a recommendation to the court about the terms of probation at the offender’s sentencing hearing. The judge may consider, but is not required to follow, the recommendations made by a probation officer in his or her report. The offender will also have the opportunity to testify before the judge at a criminal sentencing hearing.
If an Illinois judge decides to grant a drug and alcohol offender a term of probation, the judge’s probation order typically lists a variety of different conditions. For example, the court may order an offender to pay fines, complete a certain number of community service hours, and/or report to a probation officer on a regular basis. The court may also require the offender to complete a drug and alcohol program and/or undergo drug and alcohol testing at various times over the course of the probationary period. The specific terms of probation depend upon a variety of factors, including the specific drug or alcohol charge the offender faces. The probation terms also depend upon the offender’s past criminal record (if any), including prior drug and alcohol offenses.
An offender’s probation may or may not involve supervision by a probation officer. In general, a judge may grant the offender a period of unsupervised probation if the drug or alcohol charge is a less-serious misdemeanor charge, such as a minor possession charge. During the course of unsupervised probation, the offender typically does not need to undergo drug testing or meet with a probation officer at regular intervals. However, the offender will still need to avoid arrests or criminal activity during this period or may have to satisfy other requirements, such as completing a specified number of community service hours.
On the other hand, the Illinois Adult Probation Department, including the DuPage County Probation & Court Services department, oversees offenders when the court orders them to complete supervised probation. Supervised probation is more likely if the offender was convicted has a conviction of committing a serious drug or alcohol offense, such as drug distribution, delivery, or manufacturing. If an Illinois judge sentences the offender to a period of supervised probation, the court will assign a probation officer to specifically oversee the offender’s case. The probation officer will ensure that the offender complies with the terms of probation at all times.
Common programs and conditions associated with supervised probation in Illinois include the following:
- Completing a specified number of required community service hours
- Completing drug testing at specified intervals while the probation is pending
- Meeting with the assigned probation officer on a weekly basis
- Required weekly telephone calls between the offender and his or her probation officer
- Scheduled home visits by the probation officer to the offender’s home
- Anger management classes for the offender
- Required mental health treatment
The Adult Probation Department in the State of Illinois utilizes several specialized probation levels and supervision levels, depending upon the specific charge. In some cases, depending upon the charge, the level of supervision exercised over the offender may be minimal, such as merely requiring the offender to undergo occasional drug testing. In other cases, however, the level of supervision and control over the offender may be much more intense. The probation may require frequent contact between the offender and the assigned probation officer, along with attendance at an in-patient drug or alcohol rehabilitation program.
The experienced DuPage, Kane, and Cook County criminal defense lawyers at Martin & Kent, L.L.C. can help you determine whether probation is an option in your case. If so, our lawyers can argue for probation on your behalf, as well as for favorable probationary terms.
Common Probation Violations
If an offender fails to abide by or fulfill any of the conditions of probation, then he or she will be in violation of probation. One common and serious probation violation is an arrest for a criminal offense while you are still on probation. Other common Illinois probation violations in the context of drug and alcohol offenses include the following:
- Failing to regularly report for drug testing
- Failing to enroll in court-ordered alcohol or drug treatment
- Failing to enroll in mental health treatment
- Failing to pay court-ordered restitution or monetary fines
- Failing to complete the required number of court-ordered community service hours
- Failing to be present for a scheduled home visit with the probation officer
- Failing to maintain employment in accordance with the terms of probation
Minor probation violations may result in a probation officer issuing a warning or a violation report. The offender will typically receive a warning if the violation is minor, such as skipping a scheduled weekly meeting or not submitting certain documentation in a timely manner. If the offender fixes the condition or rectifies the situation, the mistake likely goes away.
A more serious probation violation, however, can result in an arrest warrant issued for the offender’s arrest, and the offender can serve jail time. The sentencing judge could also revoke the offender’s probation and sentence the offender pursuant to the original sentencing guidelines for the criminal offense.
The knowledgeable DuPage, Kane, and Cook County probation violation lawyers at Martin & Kent understand the serious consequences associated with a probation violation. Our attorneys can represent you at a probation violation hearing and can represent your legal interests, in hopes of reducing the chances of any unduly harsh consequences.
Beating Drug Tests Is Nearly Impossible
In many cases of both supervised and unsupervised probation, the offender must submit to regular drug testing. An offender who recently used drugs or alcohol may try to beat the test instead of skipping it, which will automatically raise suspicions. It seems like there is no shortage of information about foolproof ways to beat drug tests. The fact is, law enforcement authorities are aware of all of these methods as well.
Some people on probation may choose to gamble by taking the test and hoping the drug is out of their system by the time they test. This risky approach may work once or twice—but eventually, you will likely test positive for the substance. Other approaches each have their own downfalls, including:
- Attempting to add a substance to urine to mask the results—but these masking substances are detectable.
- Diluting the urine, but even a visual check can raise suspicions due to light coloring.
- Ingesting drinks meant to flush the body’s systems, but these drinks are also detectable.
- Attempting to swap urine with that of a person who is clean. However, these tests are tightly controlled and this approach is nearly impossible.
If you try to beat a drug test and get caught, you can face more serious consequences than simply failing the test, as you were trying to be deceptive.
Helping to Avoid the Harsh Consequences of a Probation Violation
Our lawyers understand the control that drug addiction holds over people, which is why we will work hard to help limit the damage of an alleged probation violation. If you know you are going to test positive for drugs or alcohol, you should seek legal advice right away. In some cases, it may help to admit fault and plead for sympathy from a probation officer or judge. We can let you know what options you have.
If a test does come back positive, we can also protect your rights in your probation violation hearing. Sometimes, false positives occur. In other instances, authorities may have improperly handled the evidence, rendering it inadmissible. No matter the circumstances, we will work hard to limit the consequences that come with a probation violation.
Contact Our DuPage, Kane, and Cook County, Illinois, Criminal Defense Attorneys
A probation violation is not the end of the world, and you have options and rights. Call the criminal defense lawyers at Martin & Kent at (630) 474-8000 today to schedule a free initial consultation to discuss your case. With offices in Wheaton in DuPage County, we provide criminal defense services to people throughout DuPage County, Kane County, and Cook County, Illinois.