The Consequences of a New York City Probation Violation
A famous law professor once said that the first rule of criminal defense is this: “don’t tick off the judge.” Few things tick off judges more than having their orders ignored or disobeyed. If you have been convicted of a crime and are on probation in New York City, you need to understand that the terms of your probation are set forth in a judge’s order. If you violate the terms of your probation, you are violating a court order, and what was looking like the end of your ordeal with the criminal justice system may be just the beginning.
If you were given probation, you were given something of a gift in that you avoided jail time which could have otherwise been imposed. So long as you follow the terms the judge imposed upon you, your probationary period will end and you’ll be able to move forward with your life. The last thing you want is to wind up back in court, facing the possibility of time behind bars. But that is just one of many possible consequences of a New York City probation violation.
If a probation officer or prosecutors believe that you have violated your probation requirements or limitations, they will serve you with a Violation of Probation (VOP) which they have also filed with the court. The VOP will set forth the specific allegations as to how and when you violated the terms of your probation.
The VOP Hearing
A VOP hearing will then be held, often before the same judge whose order you are accused of violating. If you do not appear at the hearing, you are digging yourself an even deeper hole, and a bench warrant will likely be issued calling for your immediate arrest.
At that hearing, prosecutors will present evidence that you have failed to meet your obligations or engaged in conduct prohibited by the terms of your probation. Unlike in a criminal trial, where guilt must be proven “beyond a reasonable doubt,” a finding that you have violated the terms of your probation must only be supported by a “preponderance of the evidence.” While you and your attorney will have the opportunity to refute the allegations at the hearing, this is a much easier standard for prosecutors to meet and puts you at a disadvantage from the start.
Some probation violations are “technical,” such as failing to meet or check in with a probation officer and other violations that do not involve a new felony or misdemeanor. Other violations are “substantive,” such as the commission of a new crime or violating conditions limiting contact with designated individuals. The penalties for a “substantive” violation are often more severe.
If the judge does find that you failed to abide by his or her probation directives, he or she can impose a wide range of penalties up to and including jail time, even if your original conviction did not include time behind bars. Other potential consequences of a New York probation violation can include:
- Extending the length of your probation
- House arrest or electronic monitoring
- Adding additional conditions and restrictions to your probation
- Adding additional community service
- Drug or alcohol rehabilitation
A charge that you have violated the terms of your probation is not one you should take lightly. Given the easier burden on prosecutors and the harsh consequences if you are found to have disobeyed a judge’s orders, you should retain an experienced Brooklyn criminal defense attorney the minute you are advised of your alleged violation.
At Epstein & Conroy, we offer free, confidential initial consultations to those accused of New York criminal offenses and probation violations. Please call (718) 852-6763 to speak with one of Epstein & Conroy’s experienced Brooklyn criminal defense attorneys today.
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