As the job of a criminal defense attorney, part of what we do is defend against probation violations.
A probation violation generally refers to missing a scheduled court date on a particular set day and time. Probation usually runs from one month to three years, but can last for many years if the original crime was very serious. Probation violators often receive community service and are not allowed to go out and commit more crimes. Probation violations are sometimes even referred to as a prison sentence or jail term.
Usually, probation violators will have to pay for the cost of the probationary sentence, although in some cases the judge can order the offender to pay nothing at all. There are times when an offender can get out of prison with just paying a fine. Other times, the offender may be sentenced to probation and still be put back in jail, especially if the judge finds him to be a high risk. Probation violations are always serious because they affect the offender's ability to return to school and do the things that society considers acceptable. Probation violations may even result in the offender having his or her probation revoked altogether and having to go to prison for the rest of his or her life.
The majority of probation violators will spend some time in prison. The number of years a defendant spends in prison will depend on the type of crime and the severity of the crime. Some people with probation violations will spend much more time than others in prison because they have committed more serious crimes. The same applies to offenders who were involved in robberies. The longer the jail time the offender has to serve, the higher the chance that he or she will end up serving a lengthy prison sentence.
The criminal justice system tries to limit the amount of time offenders spend in jail by using multiple sanctions and by providing alternatives to incarceration. If the court finds that a person is not a danger to society and a low-risk candidate for rehabilitation, the offender can be allowed to live at home instead of being incarcerated. If the offender cannot live at home because he or she has done something very serious, he or she can be required to do community service. or undergo drug rehabilitation before getting a second chance. If the court believes that an offender needs to be incarcerated, then it will try to arrange for that offender to be given a longer prison sentence in exchange for good behavior and/or the completion of any other alternative treatment.
Probation violations are usually classified into two different categories, first-degree and second-degree. First-degree violations include violent offenses like assault, rape, murder, child abuse, burglary, arson, domestic violence, drug possession and so on. Second-degree violations include shoplifting, vandalism, fraud, disorderly conduct, DUI, sex charges, etc. The first-degree violation will carry much more punishment than the second-degree violation, but both have their own set of consequences and punishments.
In cases where there are probation violations the court will give the offender an initial suspension and a long probation period. After the first-degree violation has been resolved, the offender will have to abide by strict guidelines or else he or she will be put back in prison. It may take time to get out of jail, but the longer the suspended sentence, the lower the chance of repeat offending.