When a defendant is convicted of a crime in Utah, they may be placed on probation depending on factors like their criminal history and the severity of their offense. A person on probation generally does not have to go to jail or prison. However, they must comply with certain rules, called conditions of probation. If these conditions are violated, the person can be sent to jail or prison and face other serious consequences.
If you or one of your family members was accused of a probation violation in Utah, you need a skilled and aggressive probation violation lawyer to represent you. With more than 16 years of experience handling thousands of misdemeanor and felony criminal cases, turn to Salt Lake City defense lawyer Darwin Overson for quality representation. To set up a confidential and completely free legal consultation with Darwin, call the law offices of Overson Law at (801) 758-2287 today.
Is Probation Violation a Felony or Misdemeanour in Utah?
In Utah, rules for people on probation are outlined under Utah Code § 77-18-1, found in the Utah State Legislature. In accordance with Utah Code § 77-18-1(8), “[T]he court may require that the defendant perform any or all of the following” actions:
- Pay the fine which was imposed at the time of probation, either all at once or in installments.
- Pay any victim restitution that was ordered, such as compensation for property damage or medical bills.
- Participate in any counseling and/or treatment programs that were ordered by the court.
- Serve up to one year in their county jail, and/or be subject to home confinement with electronic monitoring (also known as “house arrest”).
- Obtain either a high school diploma, a GED (General Educational Development) Certificate, or a certificate from a vocational school, if the defendant has not done so already.
The court may also choose to impose additional conditions, which the probationer must comply with. If the probationer breaks these rules, he or she can be charged with violating probation. Additionally, there are several other ways in which a probationer can commit a violation, such as:
- Failing or refusing to submit to a drug test, such as a urine test.
- Not reporting to their probation officer.
- Getting arrested or charged with a new crime while on probation.
- Leaving the state without getting express permission from their probation officer in advance.
The Difference Between Probation and Parole Violation
Before you can understand how probation is violated, you need to understand what probation actually is. The Bureau of Justice Statistics supplies the following definition:
“Probation refers to adult offenders whom courts place on supervision in the community through a probation agency, generally in lieu of incarceration.”
Some forms of probation involve more intensive levels of supervision than others. For example, if a defendant is placed on probation for a sex crime, he or she will be supervised more closely than a person who has been sentenced to probation for crimes like shoplifting, DUI (driving under the influence), or drug possession.
Probation is often confused with parole. However, they are very different concepts. When a person is sentenced to probation, it means he or she typically will not have to go to jail or prison. By comparison, parole involves releasing inmates who have already been incarcerated, before the end of their prison term.
Probation allows convicted defendants to maintain a certain measure of freedom, which makes it a vastly preferable sentencing outcome to incarceration. However, in exchange for the privilege of keeping that freedom, probationers are also expected to follow certain rules. If a probationer violates these rules at any time during their probation period, not only can they be charged with any crime which may have caused the violation, they can also lose their probation privileges. If the person is deemed to have willfully violated the terms of their probation, they can be sentenced to prison or jail time.
What Happens if You Violate Your Probation in Utah?
A probation officer does not have the power to revoke your probation at will; the matter must be heard in court. However, the standard of proof is lower for probation violations than it is for criminal charges, which is one of the reasons why legal representation is so vital.
The statute goes on to provide some additional information about violation of probation (VOP) hearings. Here is how the general process unfolds:
- Your probation officer files an affidavit describing your alleged violation.
- The court that originally granted you probation will review the affidavit in order to determine whether probable cause exists “to believe that revocation, modification, or extension of probation is justified.”
- The order to show cause, which includes the hearing’s location and date, will be served. You will have five days’ notice.
- You will admit or deny committing the violation at your hearing.
- If you deny the allegations described by the affidavit, the prosecution will try to prove that you did commit the alleged violation.
- When the hearing is over, the court will make a decision.
You are entitled to call witnesses, appear and speak for yourself, and show evidence at your hearing. However, taking on a trained, professional prosecutor without a defense lawyer is virtually guaranteed to end unfavorably. Retaining the services of a highly qualified Utah probation violation lawyer is critical in order to increase the likelihood of a favorable outcome.
If the court finds that you violated probation, a few negative outcomes can result, depending on the severity of the violation:
- Your probation can be extended.
- The court can impose additional conditions that make probation more restrictive.
- Your probation can be revoked altogether, and you can be incarcerated.
Our Salt Lake City Probation Violation Attorneys Can Help
If you have been charged with violating probation, you could lose your probationary privileges and be incarcerated in jail or prison, which will not only deprive you of your freedom, but can also strike a serious blow to your reputation, your relationships, and your career. Furthermore, if your violation is tied to a separate crime, such as the possession of narcotics or an illegal weapon, you can be tried for the other offenses as well, leading to yet additional penalties.
A probation violation is a serious matter. Don’t wait until it is too late to seek counsel. To speak confidentially and free of charge with an experienced Salt Lake County VOP hearing attorney, call the law offices of Overson Law right away at (801) 758-2287.