When you plead guilty or are convicted of committing a crime, one alternative to being sentenced to jail or prison is to be placed on probation. While this is a much better option than being imprisoned, probation is not easy. It comes with a strict set of rules that you are required to follow. If you are caught violating the terms of your probation, you could suffer strict penalties.
What Is Probation in North Carolina?
When a judge in North Carolina imposes a sentence, he can suspend the sentence and place the person on probation for a period of time with conditions that the probationer must meet over a specific period of time in order to not serve his sentence. There are two types of probation in North Carolina:
- Unsupervised probation. Often when a person is placed on unsupervised probation, he is not assigned a probation officer to oversee his probation, and no one is monitoring his compliance with the terms of his probation. Some of the general requirements of this type of probation are not violating any laws during the term of probation and the payment of court costs and fines.
- Supervised probation. When a person is sentenced to supervised probation, he is assigned to a probation officer whom he must meet with on a regular basis and who monitors his compliance with the terms of probation set by the judge. In addition to the general requirements imposed for unsupervised probation, a probationer placed on supervised probation may be required to obtain court permission to travel out of the state, submit to warrantless searches for drugs and contraband, and pay supervision fees. Other special conditions could include serving some jail time along with probation, attending a drug or alcohol treatment program, or performing community service.
Common Violations of Probation
There are a variety of ways that you could violate the terms of your probation, and understanding what is considered a violation can help you avoid not complying with the terms of your sentence. Common probation violations include:
- Missing appointment with a probation officer. If you are on supervised probation, you will be required to meet with your probation officer on a regular schedule set by him. If you miss an appointment, this is considered a probation violation, and your probation officer could report this to the court.
- Missing a court hearing. The judge may require you to attend further court hearings after a specified period of time to review your progress. If you fail to attend the court hearing, this would be a blatant and severe violation of your probation.
- Failing to pay fines or restitution. Depending on the crime that you are convicted of committing, the judge could require you to pay fines or restitution to the victim. If you fail to pay the fines and restitution on the payment schedule set by the judge, you could be charged with a new offense for violating your probation.
- Not completing community service. If you are sentenced to community service, you will be required to complete a set number of hours of service within a given period of time. Failing to do so would constitute a probation violation.
- Visiting certain places or people. A special term of your probation could be to stay away from certain people or places associated with criminal activity. For example, if you were a member of a gang, you could be prohibited from communicating with gang members. You do not want to be caught at these locations or with these people.
- Not being employed. You could be required to obtain a job or enroll in school as a term of probation. If you fail to do so, you would be violating your probation.
- Committing another crime. A basic term of probation is that you cannot commit another crime while you are on probation. Even a minor traffic violation could be considered a probation violation.
Consequences You Could Face for Violating Probation
If you are found in violation of probation, you will be required to attend another court hearing to determine if you, in fact, violated the conditions of your probation and face further consequences. The judge could impose these sentences:
- Continue your probation under the same terms
- Modify your probation and order you to comply with additional requirements
- Extend your probation for up to five years
- Terminate the probation without further conditions
- Find you in contempt and order you to serve a jail sentence of up to 30 days
- Revoke your probation and require you to serve a jail or prison sentence
The experienced criminal defense attorneys at Browning & Long, PLLC have represented many people who have violated the terms of their probation. We understand the circumstances that lead to these violations and how to build strong defenses to reduce the negative consequences of a probation violation. If you are charged with violating your probation, call our office today to schedule a free case analysis to discuss your situation and your options.