What Happens if I am Found to Have Violated My Probation?
Fred Steese is serving a prison sentence in Florida for a parole violation committed in 1992. He was released from a Nevada jail in May — after more than 20 years — when a judge overturned his conviction for murder. Upon release, he was immediately taken to Florida to serve a possible three-year sentence for failing to report to his parole officer after early release from a robbery conviction in 1989.
Under Nevada law, if you have been convicted of a crime, a judge may choose to order probation as an alternative to jail time. Probation is designed to promote rehabilitation and prevent prison overcrowding. It can last for up to three years in the case of misdemeanors and up to five years in the case of felonies. Probation is not an option in the case of certain more serious felonies, such as murder or sexual assault. Common terms of probation include:
- Attending counseling
- Participating in community service
- Submitting to random drug testing
- Electronic monitoring
- Keeping regular appointments with a probation or parole officer
If you violate a term of your probation, such as failing to report to your probation officer, the consequences can be serious. If the police have probable cause to suspect you are in violation, you may be arrested and brought before a judge for a probation violation hearing. In this hearing, the judge will look at the evidence to determine whether you violated probation. Unlike a regular trial, the prosecution does not have to prove beyond reasonable doubt that you were in violation. Rather, they only need to prove their case to a lesser standard, i.e., based on the preponderance of the evidence. For this reason, it is vital that you are represented by a determined defense attorney to fight your case.
If the judge rules you were in violation of probation, they can intensify the terms of your probation, or revoke probation and impose a jail sentence or a period of house arrest. Make sure you get aggressive defense representation from a Reno criminal defense attorney if you are facing a probation violation hearing.