In most counties and the state of California, when a defendant pleads guilty to a criminal offense, he or she will be placed on probation. Probation is a concept where a defendant accepts a sentence that is less than the maximum sentence for the offense allowable under the law. In exchange for this lesser sentence, the balance of the sentence is placed “over the defendant’s head” during the period of probation. Accordingly, if the defendant were to violate the terms and conditions of his or her probation, he or she would be summoned back to court to face the allegations relevant to a probation violation. If the allegations are found true by a preponderance of the evidence and the defendant has violated the terms and conditions of the probation, he or she can be sentenced up to the maximum period of time that was previously held over his or her head.

Summary Or Informal Probation

When a defendant pleads guilty to a misdemeanor criminal offense, he or she will likely be placed on informal probation. Under informal probation, there is no probation officer to report to, drug testing, house checks, etc. It is essentially an agreement between the defendant and the court that the defendant will not violate the law, pay fines, pay restitution and perform any community service, Caltrans or jail that was required to be done as part of the original sentence. If the defendant is on informal probation, the violation could result in jail time or additional sanctions if it is found true. In the case of a violation of informal probation, it could be the first time that the defendant faces real jail time. Accordingly, it is necessary to defend the probation violation allegations as vigorously, if not more so, than the original case.

When a defendant pleads guilty to a felony criminal offense, he or she will most likely be placed on formal probation. Under formal probation, a defendant will have to report to a probation officer; potentially take a drug test; and comply with the terms, conditions and orders of the probation department and the specific officer. If the defendant is on formal probation, a violation can be handled informally, between the probation officer and the defendant or, if the violation is more serious, a formal probation violation petition can be filed and the defendant will have to answer to the specific violations. Again, the violation of formal probation is a serious matter. It is necessary to defend a violation vigorously because if it is found true, that could mean that the defendant is sentenced to state prison or a lengthy time in the county jail.

The Hearing

As stated earlier, the burden of proof in a probation violation hearing is a preponderance of the evidence. Stated another way, the court is charged with determining simply whether it is more likely than not that the defendant has violated the terms and conditions of his or her probation. This burden of proof places a significant burden on the defendant to prove his or her innocence. Because the deck is stacked so high against a defendant, the defendant should employ the best lawyer possible to handle the probation violation. Investigation will be necessary, and a skilled litigator is needed to protect the defendant’s rights and keep him or her out of jail or state prison. Mr. Bruno is that litigator: He has handled countless probation violation hearings with great success.

If you have been accused of a probation violation in the Orange County, Los Angeles or San Diego area, contact BRUNO│NALU for your defense. We offer a free face-to-face consultation and can work out a payment plan in most situations.