What Is a Petition to Revoke?

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The phrase “petition to revoke” most commonly refers to a Petition to Revoke Probation (PTR) in the criminal justice system. This is when a prosecutor petitions the court to revoke a convicted offender’s probation and send him to jail.


To understand a petition to revoke, one must first understand what probation is.

When an person is convicted of a crime, instead of going to jail for the time required by the sentencing guidelines, the offender is allowed to remain free (or “at liberty”) on probation, provided the offender meets specific conditions of the court. Conditions may include mandatory drug testing, restrictions on where the offender can live, periodic meetings with or random check-ups by a probation officer and community service.

A prosecutor can only file a Petition to Revoke Probation when she believes the offender has violated one or all terms of his probation.

Judicial Process

When a Petition to Revoke Probation is filed, the court will hold a hearing and a judge will determine if the violation has in fact occurred. PTRs can be filed on two main grounds: that the offender has not fulfilled a condition of his probation or that a new crime has been committed.

Burden of Proof

The burden of proof for a prosecutor attempting to secure a revocation of probation is fairly low. The prosecutor has only to prove that there is a reasonable cause to believe a violation has occurred.


If a Petition to Revoke Probation is granted, the offender may be sent directly to jail to serve any remaining time of his sentence. If a new crime has been alleged, sentencing for the new crime may be added on to the remaining time the offender has to serve for the original crime.

Other petitions to revoke

Petitions also occur in civil court and include petitions to revoke child visitation rights or custody. Generally, however, “petition to revoke” is understood to refer to the criminal justice process.


About the Author

Christina Eichelkruat has a degree in mass communications, emphasis on print journalism. She has been a staff reporter for the "Pahrump Valley Times" for two years and a freelance writer for three. In addition to her published newspaper articles, she has ghostwritten two books and contributed to various governmental reports.