Probation is a form of punishment officials can levy upon those convicted of committing crimes. It is preferable to spending time in jail or prison, but you should know that committing a probation violation can land you in worse trouble.
A lot of people are probably aware that serious consequences await them after a proven probation violation. However, they may not know what penalties they may face.
In this article, we take a closer look at probation and examine the many aspects of it and everything it entails. After that, we will also look at what could happen if you violate the terms of your probation.
Please join us as we dive deeper into Arizona’s laws regarding probation and potential violations.
The Punishment of Probation
Before we get into what could happen after violating the terms of your probation, let’s take the time to learn about that form of punishment first.
Probation is a form of punishment handed down to those who have pled guilty or have been convicted of some offense. In some cases, individuals who plead guilty or have been convicted will need to spend time in either jail or prison, depending on their crimes.
The idea behind probation is to give some offenders a way to avoid incarceration. Defense attorneys may angle to secure probation for their clients during negotiations with the state. They may also request this form of punishment from the judge on behalf of their clients.
Although probation is preferable to incarceration in many ways, do note that it has downsides as well for the defendant.
For instance, probation can prove to be more expensive for the defendant. There are cases where a defendant may be required to pay restitution to the plaintiff. Depending on the probationer’s current employment status, they may find that requirement especially difficult to meet.
Another thing to note about probation is that it often lasts longer than the prison sentence someone may receive. You may deal with restrictions longer, even if you avoided incarceration.
How Long Will a Probationary Period Last?
The length of the probationary period can vary depending on several factors. Among those factors is the nature of the crime committed.
Probationary Periods for Misdemeanors
Misdemeanors often come with shorter probationary periods relative to felonies.
The shortest probationary periods are for those guilty of a class 3 misdemeanor. Examples of class 3 misdemeanors in Arizona include speeding and leaving the scene after hitting a parked car.
For class 3 misdemeanors, the guilty party’s probationary period may last for up to one year.
Next up, we have class 2 misdemeanors. Probationary periods for class 2 misdemeanors can last for up to two years. They may find you guilty of a class 2 misdemeanor in Arizona if you verbally assault someone or drive recklessly.
The maximum probationary period for a class 1 misdemeanor is three years. Offenses such as public urination, shoplifting, and driving under the influence all qualify as class 1 misdemeanors.
Probationary Periods for Felonies
Unsurprisingly, the probationary periods for more serious offenses that qualify as felonies last longer. Yet again, you see the length of the maximum probationary period increase in conjunction with the severity of the crime.
Class 5 and Class 6 felonies are included in one group for probationary periods. You may be charged with a class 5 or 6 felony if you engaged in animal cruelty, committed sexual abuse, or resisted arrest.
Committing a class 5 or 6 felony can land you a probationary period of up to three years.
The probationary period for class 4 felonies can last for four years. Crimes such as theft and possession of dangerous drugs qualify as class 4 felonies in Arizona.
Those who are guilty of committing a class 3 felony can find themselves on probation for five years. You can understand why the probationary period lasts that long, given the severity of class 3 felonies. Notable examples of class 3 felonies include stealing a car and assault with a deadly weapon.
Last up; we have the class 2 felonies. Class 2 felonies are serious offenses, and they include arson, manslaughter, and sexual assault.
Anyone convicted of a class 2 felony can expect to be on probation for a long time. The probationary period for those individuals may last for seven years, per Arizona law.
When Is a Probationary Period Terminated?
Probationary periods can last for the lengths of time mentioned above. However, the opposite may also take place. A probationary period may also be terminated before the maximum length is reached.
Certain conditions must be met before an offender’s probationary period is terminated.
For instance, an offender who must pay restitution will need to finish paying that amount first before the courts will terminate their probation.
Notably, they may extend a probationary period because of restitution payments. An offender who fails to complete the payments before their probation ends may have their probation extended.
They may extend a probationary period for up to two years for those guilty of a misdemeanor, and those who committed a felony could be up to five years.
Going back now to termination, the judge may deem it appropriate to end a person’s probationary period if they have exhibited exemplary conduct. A judge may also terminate probation if they believe that doing so will be more beneficial to society.
The judge could also take the offender’s current situation and the severity of the crime they committed when deciding whether to terminate probation. An offender who is struggling financially due to their probation may also get their sentence terminated.
Also, the offender could file a petition to have their probation terminated. Working closely with a lawyer will be necessary for those seeking that kind of relief.
What Happens if You Violate the Terms of Your Probation?
A probationary period can last for a long time. During that time, you will need to meet specific requirements, and officials will restrict some of your actions.
Some people have trouble meeting the terms of their probation. Because of that, they will now need to deal with the severe consequences stemming from a probation violation.
So, what are the penalties that they can impose on someone guilty of a probation violation? Let’s go over those penalties in the sections below.
Intensive Probation Supervision
Intensive probation supervision is one of the penalties you may face following your violation. As the term suggests, this is essentially a harsher form of probation.
Crucially, they do not remove the terms of your original probation. You will still need to follow them. The difference is that you must comply with additional rules now that you are under intensive probation supervision.
While you are under this program, they can order you to surrender all your paychecks. The government will then take money from your paychecks and use it to fulfill your financial obligations. That means they will use the money to pay the remaining restitution and any outstanding fees to the court.
Losing control over your finances is only one downside of intensive probation.
You may also be subjected to corrective and cognitive intervention carried out by the probation officers. The same officers also conduct direct field supervision. Probationers may also be in a close monitoring program that lasts for 24 hours.
Lastly, you must abide by the guidelines of intensive probation until you complete it. You get no days off from it. Fail to meet the conditions of your intensive probation, and you could face even stiffer penalties.
By the way, finishing the intensive probation program does not mean you are finished. After fulfilling the requirements of the program, you will be placed under regular probation again.
Considering how restrictive intensive probation can be, it is in your best interests to avoid it at all costs.
Additional Community Service
Many offenders are ordered to render community service as part of their sentence. If you violated the terms of your probation, they might order you to more hours of community service.
Given the other penalties you may be hit with after violating your probation, additional community service may seem like a lighter form of punishment.
Individuals guilty of violating their probation may need to pay additional fines. Officials can use these additional fines to cover the costs associated with your new penalties.
The judge may have taken mercy on you previously when they sentenced you to probation instead of prison. After violating the terms of your probation, the judge may no longer afford you any leniency.
Instead of sentencing you to harsher probation, additional community service, or more significant fees, the judge may decide to send you to prison.
It is important to note here that your prison sentence will correspond to your original offense. If the way you violated the terms of your probation does not constitute a crime itself, that will not affect the length of your prison sentence.
There are other penalties you may face due to your inability to complete your probationary period without incident. For example, you may need to attend special classes or wear monitoring devices.
Those penalties will place additional restrictions on your everyday life. They will make dealing with the terms of your probation even more challenging.
The Different Ways to Commit a Probation Violation
What constitutes a probation violation? Basically, any action that goes against the terms of your probation is equivalent to a violation.
Probation violations can be quite varied, though. That is because the terms of probation imposed can differ from one person to the next.
Detailed below are some of the more common kinds of probation violations.
If you are an adult, drinking alcohol is not an issue. However, you may be guilty of a serious offense if you got behind the wheel of your car and drove while intoxicated.
DUI violations are always taken seriously in Arizona. Still, if you have no prior history of drunk drinking, the judge may take it easy on you by placing you on your probation. Still, the judge may order you to refrain from drinking alcohol for the duration of the probationary period. Get caught drinking, and you may face some severe consequences.
Missing a Drug Test
The terms of your current probation may require you to submit to drug testing. That could be because your original offense was related to selling or using dangerous drugs.
In any case, you should always make time for those drug tests. Missing even one test can be a big problem. Obviously, registering a positive result on a drug test also means that you violated your probation.
Tampering with a Monitoring Device
Individuals convicted of driving under the influence are often required to install an ignition interlock device on their vehicle. This device prevents the vehicle from starting if it detects a specific amount of alcohol in your breath.
Tampering with that device is not allowed. If you are on probation, tampering with that device may constitute a violation.
You should also avoid tampering with any other monitoring devices that you may have been ordered to use.
Failing to Pay Fees
Remember those fees that the court ordered you to pay? Failing to pay them is equivalent to a probation violation.
Right from the start, clear up the terms of the payment plan with the other side and make sure you can meet them. You can also renegotiate if your employment status changes.
By the way, falling behind on your court fees can be considered a probation violation.
Failing to Show Up in Court
When you have a specific date to show up in court, you must be there. Failing to appear in court at the designated time is another example of a probation violation.
As a defendant, you may also check in with the judge periodically as part of your probation. Make sure you fulfill that obligation as well.
Are you being accused of violating the terms of your probation? Fight against those allegations by partnering with an experienced attorney. Contact us at the Schill Law Group and allow us to help with your legal troubles.