Probation is like a contract between you and the court. When you accepted probation you agreed to do everything the judge ordered as part of your probation. And the judge agreed that if you fulfill your agreement, you won’t go to jail. When a prosecutor files a motion to revoke your probation, the prosecutor is claiming that you did not live up to your end of the contract and that you should go to jail. That is not a good situation.
As a San Antonio attorney, I am often hired to help people who have probation violation cases. There are two basic defenses or strategies that I use to defend my clients in a probation violation case. But these strategies both depend on a single important principle. In the next few paragraphs, I’ll help you understand these strategies and the important principle that helps people stay out of jail when facing a probation violation.
The first defense strategy is to simply deny the violation. You didn’t do it. You didn’t violate your probation. This actually happens frequently. For example, maybe you were ordered to take a class as a part of probation and you did it. But, somewhere along the way, the probation officer either wasn’t notified that you completed the class or the officer received notice and it wasn’t entered into the system properly. That caused a motion to revoke probation. These types of things happen all the time. When that happens, we deny that you violated your probation. It is the State’s job to prove you violated your probation. But, we don’t rely on them to do the job. We will also gather the proof that you have complied with the probation order and present that to the judge and the prosecutor to defend against your probation violation and keep you out of jail.
The second defense strategy is to admit you violated the probation, but with a good explanation. For example, maybe your probation officer told you to focus on completing your DWI classes before you did your community service. While you were doing that, you were given a new probation officer, who had a different view point. That officer saw you had not done your community service and filed a motion to revoke your probation. Or, maybe you fell behind with community service because you work two jobs to try to pay the bills and you just couldn’t do everything. In either case, we handle this by explaining the situation. Every time a probation violation is filed, the judge is faced with deciding whether you should go to jail. If you violated your probation, we want to give the judge every reasonable explanation as to why that happened and how it won’t happen again.
This leads to the important principle: We always need to present information that gives either the judge or the prosecuting attorney reasons to keep you out of jail. This is critical in every probation violation case. From the beginning of negotiation with the prosecution to any final hearing in front of the judge.
Whether our defense is, “I didn’t violate probation” or “I did violate, but here is why,” we want the decision maker to want to keep you on probation. That means talking about what is going on in your life, what you have done correctly on probation, areas of difficulty or struggle in your life, areas where you have succeeded, and how going to jail would impact you and the other people involved in your life. By doing that, we help the judge or the prosecutor see you as a real person.
It also means if you are out on bond, we may need to make arrangements for you complete some of your classes or other probation requirements before we approach the court for a final decision. When this is done well, we will maximize your ability to come through a probation violation and go on with life.