The Massachusetts’ Office of the Commissioner of Probation estimates that there are approximately 86,000 individuals on probation in Massachusetts. The probation system is in place to keep communities safe while providing probationers with the tools that they need to rehabilitate their lives and live safe and productive lives. Roughly 35% of probationers are re-incarcerated for probation violations within three years of their release into the community.
What Activities Are Considered a Probation Violation?
Probation can be violated under a number of circumstances. Common actions that trigger probation violations include:
- Failing to report to your probation officer as required under the terms of your probation.
- Failing to pay required fines and court fees or restitution.
- Failing a drug or alcohol test if the terms of your probation included refraining from using drugs or alcohol.
- Failing to fulfill community service requirements.
- Failing to stay away from people, such as victims of domestic violence incidents that you may have been involved with.
- Being arrested or convicted of another crime while on probation.
If probation officers determine that someone has violated the terms of their probation, the probation officer will file what’s known as a “surrender notice” with the court, which requires you to appear at an initial surrender hearing. Sometimes, instead of receiving a surrender notice, you will have a warrant placed for your arrest.
I Received a Surrender Notice – What Should I Do?
If you have received a summons or other notice to appear, do not ignore it. The best thing that you can do is to contact an experienced Boston criminal defense attorney to find out what happens next and what your options are.
In some cases, a probation officer may request that you be placed in jail without bond until the surrender hearing. You will likely have to go before a judge, and the probation officer will talk about what allegations are against you. The judge will make a determination regarding probable cause.
If the judge determines that probable cause exists to show that you violated your probation, a final surrender hearing is scheduled. Here, your probation officer will call witnesses and bring evidence forward to prove your probation violation. You will have the opportunity to cross-examine any witnesses that your probation officer brings forward.
Another option that your defense attorney might recommend is to stipulate the violation, if he or she believes it to be in your best interest to do so. Stipulating to the violation may be a way to avoid returning to prison, so it is in your best interests to contact a criminal defense attorney early in the process.
What Can Happen if the Judge Determines That I Violated My Probation?
If the judge determines that you did in fact violate your probation, you may still be able to continue your probation, however you may have stricter rules and additional fines to contend with. Worst-case scenario, you may return to prison to serve out your sentence or even have your sentence enhanced.
Without strong representation in court, you are at a far greater chance of being convicted and having to serve part of your original sentence. The Boston criminal defense lawyers at Keegan Law are ready to explain your rights and give you advice on how to resolve the issue. Contact us today either online or at (617) 799-7644 to schedule a free case evaluation.