Let's Talk about Probation Revocation
Unfortunately, at least half of persons placed on probation will face a hold, investigation, or possible revocation at some point during their term of supervision. Revocation proceedings can have immediate and immense negative effects on a client’s family, job, and liberty. A probation agent can simply place a “hold” on a person, which will land them in jail pending a formal investigation. This can take days, sometimes weeks. If the Department of Corrections elects to seek revocation, then the timeline stretches out into months. Here is why this painful process requires experienced and successful defense attorneys, like Richards & Dimmer, S.C.:
1. You have a right to a formal revocation hearing. Don’t let a probation agent bully your family member or friend into “waiving” his or her revocation hearing. We regularly hear our clients tell us that agents try pressuring them into a formal hearing, usually by claiming that the client has no chance of succeeding at the revocation hearing. What agents never understand, however, is that the hearing is vital to defending against the claims made against the client.
2. Revocation hearings allow us to prepare to defend against fresh charges. Usually a probation revocation proceeding comes with a fresh set of charges that mirror the allegations made by the client’s agent. The revocation proceedings provide an opportunity to obtain the discovery before the prosecutor usually has them. The revocation proceedings also provide an opportunity to question officers or witnesses without the stricter rules of evidence. Lastly, the revocation hearing can be used as leverage to resolve the fresh charges. Taken together, the revocation hearing almost becomes a “practice run” in defending allegations.
3. Revocation hearings are about more than allegations. Sometimes “winning” a probation revocation hearing means something besides successfully keeping a client on supervision. Sometimes a win, as stated above, is learning as much as possible about new, more serious charges, to better defend against them. Sometimes winning a revocation is about minimizing the amount of time a client returns to jail or prison. And sometimes, winning a revocation means admitting to some of the allegations, defending against others, and arguing that a client should remain on supervision despite the violations to his or her rules of supervision. What your agent probably doesn’t tell you is this: revocation is not automatic if you violate a rule. The violation is only step one. The Division of Hearings and Appeals must also decide whether revocation is necessary to (1) control the offender, (2) provide correction to the offender, or (3) to hold accountable the offend. We have successfully kept clients on supervision by arguing that despite violations, the client should remain on probation.
4. Sometimes a probation hold doesn’t mean a revocation at all. Although agents quickly place holds on probationers for alleged rules violations, with the assistance of counsel, the matter can be addressed faster than if a client is unrepresented. We have experience acting as go-betweens between a client and the Department of Corrections. We can educate the agent about possible alternatives to revocation, additional facts, and information that may sway the agent’s decision on how to proceed. A client may be required to give a statement to an agent before the investigation is complete, but we work with our clients to help them be clear and focused in their statements. We have a professional relationship with the Department of Corrections that brings our clients good results. And the Department knows that if they do not offer our clients an alternative to revocation, they will be having a revocation hearing.