What Is a Petition to Revoke?

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A petition to revoke (PTR) is a formal written request by a district attorney to revoke a criminal defendant's probation. Probation is the supervision of a convicted offender for a set amount of time. It is part of a sentence for an offense. Probation can be for a period of months or years.

When the court receives a PTR, it schedules a violation of probation (VOP) hearing for the offender. The parties required to attend the VOP hearing typically include the district attorney, the offender and the offender’s probation officer.

What Happens Before the VOP Hearing?

When the court receives the district attorney's petition to revoke, it will issue a warrant. The offender may be arrested or voluntarily turn himself in. The offender is then ordered to appear in court for the violation of probation hearing.

What Happens at the VOP Hearing?

At the hearing, the district attorney must prove the violation of probation by a preponderance of the evidence. The state must show that at least 51 percent of the evidence is in favor of its case. The offender has a right to an attorney at the VOP hearing. The offender and the state can call and cross-examine witnesses during the hearing. An offender does not have a right to a jury trial.

What Factors Will the Court Consider?

The court will consider the seriousness of the violation, the nature of the violation, and the offender’s history of probation violations. The judge will also consider the probation officer's and the probation department’s view of the violation, and the point at which the offender incurred the violation during the probation term, such as the beginning, middle or end of her term.

The court will also consider any aggravating and mitigating circumstances of the violation. An aggravating circumstance could be using a weapon to commit a new crime. A mitigating circumstance could be breaking a curfew to drive a family member to the hospital.

Difference Between Substantive and Technical Violations

The court will also look at whether a violation is a substantive or technical violation. An offender engages in a substantive violation when she is charged with a new crime. For example, if the offender is on probation for robbery and is charged with a DUI, she has incurred a substantive violation.

An offender engages in a technical violation if he is not charged with a new crime. For example, if the offender is on probation for trespassing and does not pay fines he owes to the court, he has incurred a technical violation.

What Happens if the Offender Loses?

If the court determines that the offender violated his probation, the judge has several options when sentencing him. The judge can extend the probation term, impose additional fines or add tasks to the term of probation. Examples include completing mental health treatment or a substance abuse recovery program. The judge can also revoke the offender’s probation and order him to serve the remainder of his original jail sentence.

Other Types of Petitions to Revoke

There are several other types of PTRs. For example, in probate law, if a party wants to contest a will, he or his lawyer will file a petition to revoke probate. Probate is the official proving of a will or the process to recognize a will as valid.

In immigration law, a petition to revoke is the revocation of an H, L, O, P or Q nonimmigrant petition by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. In family law, the term petition to revoke is sometimes confused with a petition to terminate parental rights, which is a formal written request to permanently end the legal parent-child relationship.