If a person is on probation in Pennsylvania, this means that they have been released from incarceration and are under the supervision of law enforcement during the remaining time of their sentence. However, individuals on probation have to abide by fairly strict regulations. Any person who violates their probation could be reincarcerated and even face new charges. Here, we want to discuss both technical violations and new criminal offenses that could result in a probation violation. Specifically, we want to discuss what happens during a probation violation hearing.
Types of Probation Violation Hearings
If a person violates the rules of their probation, they have the right to a violation of probation hearing in Pennsylvania. The first type of hearing that a person is entitled to is a preliminary hearing, called a Gagnon 1 Hearing. This hearing will usually be held anywhere from a week to 10 days after a person has been jailed for violating their probation. It is up to a judge as to whether or not the person will remain in jail from when the Gagnon 1 Hearing occurs and their next hearing.
The next type of hearing person will face is called a Gagnon 2 Hearing. This is when a judge will finally let a defendant know whether or not they are guilty of violating probation.
There are two types of probation violations an individual can be accused of in Pennsylvania – technical violation and a direct violation.
- Technical violations occur if an individual violates the terms and conditions of their original probation. This can include failing to contact a probation officer, failing a drug test, quitting a job, failing to attend court-ordered classes, etc.
- Direct violations occur when a person commits or is convicted of a new crime while they are on probation.
Individuals facing probation violation hearings do have the right to have an attorney present at their preliminary or second hearings. It is strongly recommended that individuals facing revocation of probation work with an attorney in these situations.
What Are the Consequences of a Pennsylvania Probation Violation?
It is crucial to understand that a probation violation can result in significant consequences for an individual. In these situations, the judge has a lot of discretion when it comes to the penalties the violator can face. In most situations, a judge will consider various factors before making their decision, including:
- The nature of the violation
- Seriousness the technical violation or new crime committed
- Whether or not this is the first violation or if there have been previous violations
A judge has the right to revoke probation for any type of violation, though an individual working with an attorney may be able to argue for a modification of the terms or another penalty instead. Some of the possible outcomes of a probation violation include the following:
- Complete revocation of probation, meaning an individual will have to serve out their original sentence in jail
- Revocation of probation and another sentence, up to the legal maximum for the original crime
- Mandatory enrollment in court-ordered counseling or drug rehabilitation program
- Extension of the probation sentence
- An order to perform community service
- Modification of probation terms (often making them stricter)
Individuals should speak with their criminal defense attorney about all possible probation revocation possibilities before they go to the hearings.