What Happens if I Violate Probation?
Probation allows a person to avoid going to jail or prison while serving a sentence.
For this reason alone, many people aggressively try to get probation if they cannot get the charges dismissed altogether.
However, probation is not a “get out of jail free” card.
Instead, it comes with an array of conditions which you must follow.
Some of the more common include staying out of trouble, undergoing periodic or regular drug tests, and meeting regularly with a probation officer.
These aren’t optional. If you violate any of these conditions, you can be picked up and incarcerated.
At Cowboy Country Criminal Defense, we receive many panicked calls from someone who has maybe missed a visit with their officer or who has been picked up for a DUI.
They call because they want to know “how much time can you get for violating probation?” The answer is pretty simple—you can get as much time in jail or prison as you would have received had you never received probation.
But it is also possible to avoid jail even if you violated a condition.
What is a Probation Revocation Hearing?
Under WY Stat. § 7-13-408, your probation officer has the power to take you into custody and to detain you for a reasonable period of time if he or she believes you violated any condition of your probation.
You will also have a probation hearing. Under the law, you are entitled to receive written notice of the substance of the allegations against you.
This written notice is key because it allows you and your attorney to prepare for the hearing.
The hearing is usually held before a judge, hearing officer, or other person empowered to hear the case.
You will have the right to cross-examine any witnesses who offer testimony against you.
You can also present any proof in your possession that shows you did not commit the violation or that the violation was unintentional.
In many ways, these hearings are like trials. However, the standard of proof is much lower. You do not need to be found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Instead, the judge only needs to find it is more likely than not that you committed the violation.
Will You Be Sent to Jail?
It isn’t automatic that you will be sent to jail if you violated your probation.
Instead, WY Stat. § 7-13-1107(b) proposes other administrative sanctions that can be imposed, including community service or loss of certain privileges.
Your attorney can argue that these punishments are much more appropriate, especially if your violation was minor.
You can also be sent to the county jail for a short period of time—up to 30 days. This does not mean your probation is revoked.
Instead, you simply go to jail for a short period of time and are still on probation when you leave jail.
Possible placement in a residential community correctional program for up to 60 days is also an option that will allow you to continue probation.
What if Probation is Revoked?
This is the worst outcome. Once probation is revoked, you will be sentenced just as you would have been had the judge not put you on probation, to begin with.
Probation violation sentences will depend on the underlying offense.
To figure out how much jail time for a probation violation, meet with your attorney to review the initial charges against you.
Probation can be ordered for either a misdemeanor or a felony conviction. If you were convicted of a misdemeanor, then you are looking at a maximum of 6-12 months in jail anyway.
Felony sentences depend on the felony you were charged and convicted of.
Also, you might be charged with a new crime, which is the reason why you are having your probation revoked in the first place.
For example, you might have been arrested for DUI, which is now another substantive offense you could do time for.
As you can see, the answer to the question, “how long do you go to jail for violating probation?” is really “it depends.”
Defendants should do everything possible to prevent a revocation of their probation.
In some cases, you might not have done anything wrong, so there is no valid reason to revoke.
In others, the violation is small and technical in nature and does not indicate that you can’t continue successfully with your probation.
At Cowboy Country Criminal Defense, we help criminal defendants get back on their feet after an arrest.
This includes fighting for probation and then making sure it is not revoked.
If you’ve been picked up, please contact us today. A member of our team will swing into action to figure out the allegations against you and build a case that shows you deserve to keep your probation.
Schedule your free and confidential initial consultation today.