There are at least two reasons why a probation violation (or “surrender hearing”) should be taken even more seriously than the original case. First, you no longer have a right to a trial. Second, the burden of proof is much lower at the surrender hearing. In order to find you in violation of your probation, the probation officer only has to prove the existence of a violation by a preponderance of the evidence. In other words, the judge only needs to find that there is a 51% chance that you did violate your probation.
If you receive a Notice of Probation Violation and Hearing, you should immediately call us at 781-773-8868 to schedule a consultation. The probation surrender process can seem much more informal and less serious than your case originally seemed. This is because you no longer have all of the constitutional protections that you enjoyed prior to being placed on probation.
Probation conditions can be imposed only by the judge who sentences who. If your probation officer adds a condition that was not mentioned by the sentencing judge, or your attorney, then you cannot be surrendered for violating that condition. This is because it is not a condition of your probation. This is true even if you signed a “probation contract” agreeing to the condition.
The first time you appear in court after receiving your violation notice will be for the preliminary surrender hearing. You will typically be summoned to appear for this hearing. Receiving a violation notice is a serious event. If you are in this situation, you should contact us immediately. Our firm has successfully resolved many probation violation issues at or prior to the preliminary surrender hearing. Getting ahead of this situation is not only cost effective, but it can also significantly reduce the risk of incarceration.
Probation officers have a difficult job, and they usually have far more cases than they can handle.