If you were caught breaking a minor law, then chances are you received probation. This is just a period of time where you’ll be “supervised” by the criminal justice system. This period of time replaces a period of jail time that you would otherwise serve for your crimes. Probation is often attached to a number of other stipulations. You’ll likely be barred from owning or carrying a firearm (sometimes for life, depending on your crime). Sometimes you’ll need to attend a program for education, or provide a particular number of community service hours. It depends entirely on the situation.
Often, an offender can trade probation for jail time. If you’re in a situation where you’re likely to offend again while you’re serving probation, then it may be in your best interest to simply turn yourself in and serve an alternate sentence. If you get nailed for a criminal offense while under probation, the consequences will be much more severe, and could impact where you go and what you do for the rest of your life.
So what happens if you violate your probation?
It depends on the crime, your own circumstances, and what the court wants. If you’ve never been in trouble before, then most likely you’ll be given a warning. Don’t make the assumption that this is the case. Most warnings are provided simply as a way to reduce the judge’s workload, which gets bigger if you throw a bunch of probation violations into the mix. A probation violation also increases the likelihood of getting slammed with a fine for the infraction.
You may also be given community service. If the violation was connected to drugs or alcohol, then you’ll likely face a period of rehabilitation. Refusing to follow the terms set forth by your probation officer, you’ll likely end up back in jail.
The stiffer consequences will include additional jail time after what was perhaps already served. Your probationary period may be increased substantially, especially if the probation officer believes that you’re likely to re-offend. Your probation may be revoked completely, in which case you’ll go back to jail instead.
If you simply got caught violating the terms of probation, you probably don’t have to worry too much unless you’re a criminal mastermind out of prison for the first time in three decades. However, if during the probation violation you committed a new crime, then the probation officer isn’t likely to go easy on you, nor is the judge presiding over your case. When you commit a crime or have done something to violate probation, you should turn yourself into your probation officer immediately or speak to an attorney in order to set up the same. Don’t get caught doing something stupid when you can do the right thing instead.