Lancaster Probation Violation Lawyers
According to the ACLU of Pennsylvania, of the fifty states, Pennsylvania has the second highest percentage of its citizens on probation and parole as well as the highest incarceration rate in the Northeast. Many believe that the lengthy probation sentences in the state are disproportionate when compared to the rest of the nation, as well as unnecessary in many instances. In fact, one out of every 35 Philadelphians are under some form of supervision and/or correctional control (probation, parole or incarceration). Further, Pennsylvania statute 42 Pa. C.S. § 9771(c) permits a judge to send an individual who violated his or her probation to jail simply because the judge feels disrespected.
When you’re charged with violating your probation in Lancaster, we are here to help you through this difficult time. Our team of criminal defense attorneys have the experience, passion, and consideration to give you the best possible results. Contact us today at (717) 291-9400 or (877) 529-2422. Our Lancaster Office is located at 313 West Liberty Place, Lancaster PA 17603.
Pennsylvania probation laws have even been referred to as draconian because a person could conceivably still be serving his or her terms of probation for a crime that occurred a decade ago. In 2016, more people were admitted to state prison for parole revocations than for new crimes, with those charged with parole revocation making up more than half of all those admitted to state prison. The majority of these incarcerations were for a technical violation of probation or parole rather than for a new offense. Lengthy probation sentences are not only unnecessary, they can actually harm public safety because they act as a disincentive for probationers to engage in rehabilitative programs.
Because the state allows judges to place individuals on probation for years, even decades, it stands out in the nation. The only limit in the state to a probation sentence is the statutory maximum for the crime charged. Since Pennsylvania allows sentences for each charge to be stacked consecutively, two first-degree misdemeanors which carry a statutory maximum of five years each, could result in a decade of probation. As a comparison, forty-three states in the U.S. limit felony probation to five years and misdemeanor probation to between 6 months and 3 years.
Understanding Probation in Lancaster
The term “probation” is often a welcome word for a person whose alternative could be time spent behind bars. Probation can allow a person who has been convicted of a crime to avoid jail, remaining in his or her community under the supervision of a probation officer so long as court-imposed terms and
conditions are followed. The conditions set by the court are not only to protect the public, but also to help the individual to engage in rehabilitation with a goal of reintegrating into society. Field visits can be conducted by your probation officer.
In fact, any reasonable suspicion that a probation violation occurred gives your probation officer the right to search you, your vehicle or your home with no warrant necessary. Should your probation officer find a weapon, an illegal drug, drug paraphernalia, intoxicants or contraband in your possession, these items can be seized and used as evidence against you at your probation violation hearing. A probation violation can occur either through a technical violation or as a result of a new criminal offense.
What is a Technical Violation of Probation in Lancaster?
A technical violation of Lancaster probation means the individual who is on probation has violated one or more of the terms and conditions imposed by the probation order of the court. Every person on probation will have their own list of actions which would constitute a technical violation of probation. Some of the more common technical violations include the following:
- Failing to show up for a scheduled court appearance
- Taking part in any criminal activity
- Failing to obey all local, state and federal laws
- Missing a scheduled meeting with your probation officer
- Failing to allow your probation officer to visit you at your home
- Possessing illegal drugs, selling illegal drugs or distributing illegal drugs
- Failing to pay a court-ordered fine, costs or restitution
- Failing to notify your probation officer immediately if you are arrested or even cited by the police
- Failing to seek permission from the probation officer to travel outside the state
- Failing to pass a drug test
- Failing to undergo a requested assessment
- Failing to submit to identification procedures requested by your probation officer, including DNA, photographs or fingerprints
- Failing to pay compensation to victims which was ordered by the court
- Going near any place or any individual from which you are restricted
- Being arrested for any criminal offense
- Failing to complete court-mandated community service hours
- Failing to notify the court of any changes in your employment status or your home address
- Failing to maintain employment
- Possessing a weapon or firearm
- Failing to complete (or attend) a court-ordered program
The probation officer has a certain amount of discretion when a technical violation of probation occurs; he or she may issue a verbal warning to the individual who has committed the technical probation violation or can actually file formal charges of probation violation.
Probation Violation in the Form of New Criminal Offenses
One of the basic tenets of probation is that the individual who is sentenced to probation must not commit another criminal offense during the period of probation. If you violate your probation by committing another crime, you can be arrested immediately by your probation officer. Any criminal offense conviction ensures a probation violation, without benefit of a probable cause hearing. If, however, there is no conviction, rather the individual has only been arrested and detained, then that person is entitled to a preliminary hearing which will provide notice of the alleged violation of probation. The preliminary hearing must occur within two days of your arrest for a violation of probation condition.This preliminary hearing entitles the individual to these rights:
- A written report detailing the hearing
- The limited right to cross-examine witnesses
- The opportunity to present witnesses, documents, letters and other evidence
- The opportunity to be heard on the matter
- An independent, uninvolved decisions maker (the judge)
The probable hearing can be waived by the individual. While this does not, in and of itself, establish a probation violation, it does establish the existence of probable cause. If probable cause is shown, then a revocation hearing will be held.
What is a Revocation Hearing in Lancaster?
If probable cause of a probation violation has been shown, then the individual will be required to go before a judge in the court of common pleas for a revocation hearing. The revocation hearing is much more comprehensive than the preliminary hearing, allowing the judge to make the following determinations:
- Did the individual violate one or more conditions of probation?
- Should the probation of the individual be modified or revoked?
The alleged violation of probation must be clearly proven through a preponderance of evidence—this means that you more likely than not committed the alleged probation violation. If it is determined that you did commit a violation of your probation terms, then it will also be determined what type of rehabilitation will be sufficient to deter such conduct in the future. Some of the potential sanctions include an extension of the period of probation, a modification of the probationary terms or a modification of the conditions of your probation.
You are more likely to be given a harsher sanction for a probation violation if you have been issued warnings, if you had any prior violations, and the nature of the violation. As an example, if you were originally convicted of drunk driving and one of your conditions of probation was to refrain from drinking alcohol, then the judge might find that violation more serious than another.
Lawyers Ready to Take on the Lancaster County District Attorneys after Probation Violations
If you are facing a return to jail, your Lancaster probation violation can defend you at your hearing, and it is extremely crucial that you have your attorney with you at your hearing. Having a skilled Lancaster probation violation attorney defending you at your hearing can potentially help you avoid further sentencing. It is important to remember that the judge can potentially revoke your probation, requiring that you serve the remainder of your original jail sentence. For a first-time probation violation, you could be sent to jail to serve your original sentence, sentenced to additional jail time, sent to drug or alcohol rehabilitation, sent to a counseling program, have time added to your probationary period, be ordered to complete additional community service or have the terms of your probation altered or added to.
You could also face additional consequences following a probation violation which could significantly impact your future. Should you be required to go to jail, you would likely lose your job, be forced to drop out of school, and spend months or years away from your loved ones. Virtually any probation violation could result in it becoming difficult to support yourself and your family and work toward a better future.
A Lancaster Law Firm You Need Following Charges of Probation Violation
If you have been charged with a Lancaster probation violation, having an experienced Lancaster probation violation attorney in your corner can help mitigate the ramifications you will suffer and get you back to your regular life as quickly as possible. Your Lancaster probation violation attorney will investigate your alleged probation violation, building a strong defense on your behalf. If the violation is technical, your attorney may be able to suggest a way to address the issue without facing major modification to your current probation term.
Contact Our Lancaster Criminal Defense Lawyers
If you are facing charges for violating your probation in Lancaster, it is important to know the severity of these charges and the penalties you will face. The highly experienced criminal defense attorneys at the Ciccarelli Law Offices can help you during this difficult time. We will fight aggressively for your rights and freedom if you’ve violated your probation in any way. Contact the Ciccarelli Law Offices today by email or by phone at (717) 291-9400 or (877) 529-2422 immediately to begin building a solid defense against these serious charges.
Probation Violation Matters in Lancaster PA
We are criminal defense lawyers that defend individuals facing probation violations in Lancaster County PA. If you or a loved one is facing the prospect of a probation violation, contact the criminal defense attorneys at Ciccarelli Law Offices for a free consultation. Our Lancaster County attorneys have represented individuals accused of crimes throughout Lancaster County, including: Lancaster, Ephrata, Elizabethtown, Columbia, Lititz, Millersville, Willow Street, Mount Joy, Leola, New Holland, Manheim, East Petersburg, Akron, Denver, Maytown, Reamstown, Brownstown, Strasburg, Mountville, Salunga, Marletta, Quarryville, Swartzville, and Bowmansville.Call our Lancaster office at (717) 291-9400 to schedule your consultation.