Violation of Probation Lawyers in Union County NJ
April 10, 2019
If you are convicted of a crime, and if a judge determines that you should be placed on a term of probation instead of serving time, you will normally be ordered to adhere to several conditions of probation. If you violate any of these terms, even just one term on one occasion, the judge may hold a probation violation hearing, find that a violation took place, and impose significant penalties on you. Continue reading for more information about common terms of probation, the probation violation hearing process, and the potential penalties for violating probation in New Jersey. If you have been accused of violating probation in Union County, New Jersey, you need to speak with a lawyer right away. You are facing serious consequences and can even be resentenced for the original offense. Our New Jersey criminal defense lawyers regularly defend clients in Violation of Probation (VOP) hearings in Elizabeth, Union County and throughout New Jersey. Contact us now at (908) 838-0150 to receive a free consultation.
What are the Terms of Probation in New Jersey?
If you are convicted of a probation-eligible offense, you may be sentenced to between 1 and 5 years of probation in New Jersey as an alternative to incarceration. Probation can sometimes be extended, and your term of probation may also be terminated early if you complete the required obligations ahead of time, under certain circumstances. Probation may be ordered in cases involving drug charges, resisting arrest, or other crimes that does not have a mandatory prison term attached.
Courts can impose a wide variety of terms of probation so long as those terms are reasonably related to the crime at issue, and many defendants agree to these terms because they prefer the terms to serving time in prison. A judge can order a defendant to seek and hold employment, attend school, report regularly to a probation officer, perform community service, stop using alcohol or drugs, submit to random urine tests, avoid certain individuals or gangs, pay victim restitution, attend drug addiction counseling or anger management, generally obey all laws, or even abide by a curfew.
Going to Court for a Probation Violation in Union County
Failing to abide by these terms of probation on even one occasion can lead to what is called a probation violation (VOP) hearing. Your probation officer will typically notify your supervising court of any probation violation, explaining to the judge which term of your probation you allegedly violated. The court will then set a date for a probation violation hearing. If you fail to attend the hearing, the court may issue a bench warrant for your arrest. If you contest the probation violation, a state representative will present evidence that you did violate probation. The hearing is conducted as any trial would be, with the prosecutor presenting documentary and testimonial evidence to prove that the violation occurred.
Most often, a chief witness is the probation officer, but anyone else who witnessed the violation can testify for the prosecution. But unlike a criminal trial, where the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused violated a law, the violation of probation burden is merely proof by a preponderance of the evidence. That means the evidence needs to be convincing, more likely than not, that the probationer violated probation. Moreover, hearsay evidence, which means testimony about what someone else said, is admissible, whereas hearsay evidence is ordinarily inadmissible as evidence in a criminal trial.
At the hearing, you can argue or present evidence that you did not in fact violate probation, or you can admit that you violated probation and ask that probation continue under the same or modified terms. You are entitled to have an attorney who can defend you at this hearing and contest the evidence presented by the state. Your attorney can also present any number of reasons why you should be shown leniency and avoid having your probation terminated or severe penalties imposed. The court will ultimately decide whether a violation actually took place.
Penalties you may Face for Violating Probation in Linden
If the court concludes that you did violate a term of probation, or if you admit a probation violation, the court can take several actions. The court can revoke probation and order that you serve the rest of your term in prison. Alternatively, the court may extend the term of probation so that you can make up for missed community service, restitution payments, or similar obligations. The court may also modify your probation terms, adding additional terms or removing existing terms.
Contact an Elizabeth Violation of Probation Lawyer to Discuss Your Case
Given the potential severity of a probation violation, it is crucial to consult an experienced criminal defense attorney if you are ordered to appear at a probation violation hearing. Our skilled Union County criminal lawyers have the knowledge and experience to deliver superior results when defending clients accused of probation violations. We concentrate on criminal law in New Jersey to best serve your needs when dealing with these difficult scenarios. Contact our firm in Cranford, NJ at (908) 838-0150 for a free consultation about your VOP case.