Typical Reasons for Probation Revocation

By Siobhan Egan
A probation officer supervises convicted criminals in the community.

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A judge who sentences an offender to probation is taking the chance he will stay out of trouble. If he violates the rules of probation or is rearrested for new crimes, sanctions are imposed, up to and including revocation--the termination of probation and reinstatement of a jail sentence. While a probation officer has some discretion and each county and state is unique, there are certain violations that typically trigger a violation of probation hearing and revocation.

New Criminal Charges

A new arrest during the period of probation that results in a criminal conviction will almost always result in a judge revoking the underlying probation. One of the major conditions of probation is to not commit a new crime. Probation officers might even try to help probationers stay out of trouble with the law by keeping a tight rein on their whereabouts, making referrals to drug or alcohol programs and checking up on them.

Positive Urinalysis for Drugs or Breath Test for Alcohol

Substance abuse testing is a required condition of probation when the probationer has a history of alcohol or drug abuse or if there is reasonable suspicion of illegal use. One of the goals of probation for those with substance abuse problems can be to kick the habit and lead a sober, crime-free lifestyle. Failure to attend required substance abuse counseling programs or repeated positive tests for illegal drugs or alcohol, or even one positive test, can result in a revocation.

Missed Appointments

Probationers who disappear, miss scheduled appointments, lie about their work or school schedules or who travel out of state without permission, will not last long on probation in most jurisdictions. Probation officers will not tolerate a probationer who does not take his obligations or the privileges of probation seriously and will recommend to the sentencing judge that a warrant be issued and that the probation be revoked.

Possession of Weapons

Probationers are not permitted to possess weapons on probation. Having or carrying a weapon while on probation is a serious offense, and a probation officer will typically recommend that the probation be revoked. In some cases, possession of a firearm by a felon or other convicted person might be a new and separate crime, depending upon the law in the jurisdiction. In either case, it is a violation of conditions serious enough to result in probation revocation.

Violation of Special Conditions

Certain special conditions might apply to a probationer. These might include having no contact with the victim of the offense, having no contact with children or attending an anger management course. These special conditions apply to specific individuals when ordered by the sentencing judge. Judges do not typically have patience for a probationer who disobeys these court-imposed special conditions. Revocation is likely.

About the Author

Siobhan Egan has edited newspapers and news websites at the Jersey Shore since 1999 and been an attorney since 1994. Her writing has won five statewide awards from the New Jersey Press Association. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish from Bucknell University and a Juris Doctor from Temple University.

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