Starting September 2015, Massachusetts will be employing new probation violation rules and implementing changes to detention hearings. Probation surrender hearings will now be referred to as detention hearings, and preliminary hearings will be referred to as probation violation hearings. Also, the procedure for evidentiary standards and for the issuing of a violation will be modified to suit new requirements, and all changes will be applied by the Boston Municipal Court as well as District Courts within the state.
Changes to Probation Violations
The changes are not severe, and the new rules are more organized and easier for individuals to understand. These changes include:
- If charged with a new offense in one district, you can be held until the original district weighs in. If you are arrested and charged with a crime in one district and on probation in another, the probation department of the new district will notify your existing probation department regarding the new offense. They can legally hold you for one hour waiting for the official response and a judge can extend the wait period to receive a response later. A probation officer will then make a recommendation regarding the violation and whether or not you can be released.
- The process for initiating the violation changes slightly. If you are on probation in multiple districts, but charged with a crime in another, the judge will pick one of the other districts to initiate the process discussed above and the other court where you are on probation will then begin the violation process and issue a warrant.
The Probation Detention Hearings
Once judges find probable cause that you have violated the terms of your probation, a determination for detention will be made. Judges have several options here, including:
- Holding you in custody until your violation hearing;
- Releasing you with conditions;
- Releasing you without conditions;
- Issuing conditions similar to the bail statute.
Waiver of Probation Violation Hearings
As a probationer, you have the right to waive a probation violation hearing. This process requires two key steps:
- You must admit you committed a violation of the terms of your probation.
- You must then waive your right to the probation violation hearing.
A judge will likely agree with your waiver, and once accepted, the waiver is final. Then, the judge will impose his or her sentence.
The Hearsay Rule and Probation Violations
A person can be in violation of a probation using hearsay evidence. A judge, however, must decide in writing if they find the hearsay evidence reliable and substantial enough to prove violation. This is one of the most significant changes to probation violations this year. Now the probation officer must substantiate their claims with some form of concrete evidence in order for the judge to find the hearsay reliable.
In Violation of Probation? Contact Keegan Law
If you have been found in violation of your probation terms, you need the assistance of an attorney. Keegan Law can assess your case for free and help determine not only if you are in violation, but if there is a way to challenge that violation. With the new rules taking effect this month, it is important that you understand how these changes will impact your probation. Contact us online or call (617) 799-7644 now to schedule a consultation.