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Probation is an alternative to imprisonment that may be imposed after a guilty plea or criminal conviction. It allows individuals to remain in their community under certain conditions, typically under the supervision of a probation officer. If you are on probation, it is important to know exactly what is required to avoid a violation. Criminal defense lawyers can help you understand your rights and assist you if you are found to be in violation of your probation.

Types of Probation in PA

There are several types of probation in Pennsylvania, including:

  • Unsupervised / Informal Probation – This type of probation is granted to low-risk offenders—either in-person or via telephone.
  • Supervised Probation – Offenders are required to periodically report to a probation officer.
  • Community Control – Typically involves the use of a GPS ankle tracker while on house arrest, commonly referred to as Electronic Home Monitoring.
  • Shock Program – Offenders first serve a short jail sentence and are then placed on probation. This is intended to “shock” them into compliance with probation terms, or to prevent the commission of future offenses.
  • Intensive Supervision – This type of probation is very structured and involves rigorous supervision, programs, and costs.

There are several factors that can affect the terms of probation, including the type of crime and whether a sentence is imposed by federal, state, or county courts. Regardless of which type of probation you may be serving, violations of terms can have serious consequences.

Probation Violations

Different jurisdictions have varying standards for what constitutes a probation violation. There are two types of general probation violations in Pennsylvania: technical violations and criminal offenses.

Technical violations occur when an offender fails to meet the terms and conditions of their probation. Terms of probation may include:

  • Contacting your parole officer as scheduled
  • Drug and alcohol testing
  • Notifying your probation officer about changes in employment and where you live
  • Remaining employed or in school
  • Finishing mandatory drug or alcohol counseling
  • Paying fees, fines, and restitution

If you are arrested for a crime while on probation, it is considered an automatic violation and your probation officer can arrest you immediately, or lodge a “detainer” if you are already incarcerated. You are entitled to a probation hearing in which you can have an attorney to represent you. A judge can modify the terms of your probation or decide on another course of action, such as incarceration.

For example, if you are on probation for contempt of court because you failed to pay child support, you may face jail time if you miss payments. A child support lawyer can help you understand the terms of your probation so you can take care to avoid any violations.

What if I Violate My Probation?

Many factors can have an impact on what happens if you violate your probation, including the severity of the crime, whether it is your first violation, and other issues. Depending on the circumstances, a judge may:

  • Revoke probation and require you to go to jail for the remainder of your sentence
  • Revoke probation and add another sentence, up to the maximum for your original crime
  • Extend your probation
  • Modify your probation terms to include more sever supervision
  • Require mandatory enrollment in counseling or a drug and alcohol rehabilitation program
  • Order additional community service

Probation violations can have a ripple effect that can impact your employment, family, and other aspects of your life. If you are dealing with custody issues due to a violation of probation or a Protection from Abuse order (PFA), it is critical to contact a child custody attorney right away.

Whether you need assistance with criminal charges, a probation violation, or are trying to find a divorce lawyer, our experienced team can help.