If you are placed on probation after a criminal conviction in Southern California, and if you are subsequently charged with a violation of probation (VOP), you must arrange at once to discuss the charge, your rights, and your legal options with an Orange County probation attorney.
What are California’s terms and conditions of probation? If you are convicted of a crime and placed on probation, will you be allowed to drink alcohol? What can happen if you are charged with a violation of probation? When should you contact an Orange County probation lawyer?
If you’ll keep reading this brief discussion of probation in California, you will find the answers to these questions, but if you’re charged personally with a violation of probation, you must also get in touch with an Orange County probation attorney at your earliest possible opportunity.
How Does Probation Work?
When a California judge sentences an offender to probation, the court is allowing that person to avoid incarceration. If you are convicted of a crime, probation may be ordered instead of – or along with – jail for a misdemeanor conviction or prison for a felony conviction.
Whether you were convicted on a felony charge or a misdemeanor charge, if you violate probation, you will be charged with a violation of probation and ordered to appear at a VOP hearing. If that happens, you will need the services of an attorney who has considerable experience with violation of probation cases.
At the conclusion of a violation of probation hearing, if the probationer is convicted, a judge may reinstate or modify the original terms and conditions of probation. On the other hand, the judge may instead order the offender to serve time in a county jail or state prison.
What Are California’s Probation Rules?
Every probation sentence is different. Generally speaking, however, the terms and conditions of probation in California usually include:
- court-ordered restitution to the victim or victims
- court-ordered community service
- mandatory full-time school attendance or gainful employment
- a requirement to avoid any contact with the victim or victims
- for some probationers, mandatory full-time use of an electronic monitoring device
While every probation sentence is different, if you are on probation for DUI (driving under the influence) – or for an offense that is frequently alcohol-related such as domestic violence or disorderly conduct – the judge will almost certainly order you to abstain from drinking alcohol.
If you are on probation for DUI, driving with any measurable blood alcohol content will be a violation of probation. If a violation of probation charge involves alcohol in any way whatsoever, the judge may require alcohol counseling or treatment as an additional condition of probation.
What is a SCRAM Bracelet?
Judges in California frequently order those who have been convicted of driving under the influence to wear an electronic ankle bracelet – sometimes called a “SCRAM” bracelet – a device that monitors perspiration in order to detect alcohol in the blood.
“SCRAM” stands for “Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitor.” Abstaining from alcohol and wearing a SCRAM bracelet is commonly a condition of probation for those convicted of DUI and other alcohol-related offenses.
If someone tampers with a SCRAM bracelet or if the SCRAM bracelet detects alcohol in the probationer’s blood, the device immediately sends an electronic alert to a SCRAM monitoring site, and the court is notified immediately of the violation of probation.
If a violation of probation charge is prompted by a SCRAM report of device tampering or alcohol consumption, a probationer must be represented by a Southern California probation attorney who has considerable experience handling SCRAM-related violation of probation cases.
What Happens at VOP Hearings?
Probationers who fail to comply with the terms of probation are subject to arrest. The court may issue an arrest warrant, but if a probation officer reasonably believes that you are not compliant, that officer may arrest you without a warrant, and you may or may not be permitted to post bail.
At a California VOP hearing, your own defense attorney and a prosecutor will both present testimony and evidence regarding the alleged probation violation. However, probationers lose their right to a trial by jury, so verdicts in VOP hearings are determined exclusively by judges.
Additionally, in a violation of probation hearing, in order to win a conviction, the prosecutor only has to prove it is “more likely than not” that you violated the terms of your probation. There is no requirement in a VOP case for a prosecutor to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
How Are VOP Verdicts Determined?
When a California violation of probation hearing concludes, if the probationer is convicted of a probation violation, a judge will take the following items into consideration when determining the penalty:
- the specifics of the violation
- the probationer’s previous criminal record
- the probationer’s probation record prior to the violation
- recommendations from the probation officer
After a consideration of these items, as mentioned previously, a judge may reinstate or modify the original conditions and terms of probation or revoke the probation entirely and send the offender to jail or prison.
One approach that many judges in California sometimes use in violation of probation cases is to revoke probation temporarily, order the offender to serve thirty or more days in jail, and then release the offender and reinstate the original terms and conditions of probation.
How Can A Probation Attorney Help You?
Probation is the State of California’s expression of leniency. Not everyone who is convicted of a crime qualifies for probation. If you’re placed on probation for a DUI conviction – or for any misdemeanor or felony conviction – take advantage of the opportunity to avoid incarceration.
If you are on probation and you’re charged with a violation of probation, it does not mean that you will be convicted. Your Southern California probation lawyer might persuade the judge that you didn’t violate your probation, or if you did, you should be allowed to continue on probation.
While you’ll lose some rights if you are placed on probation, you don’t lose the right to a good attorney’s help. In southern California, if you are charged with a violation of probation, exercise your rights, and immediately schedule a consultation with an Orange County probation lawyer.