For many, probation is a relief – after all, being sentenced to probation means you will not have to enter a jail cell. But being put on probation does not mean that you are free from the justice system, or that you have finished serving for your crimes – far from it.
In fact, if you are put under probation in Colorado, you have to be incredibly careful and make sure that you follow all of the conditions set down by the judge. Failing to do so could result in additional charges, and after seeing you in court for a second or third time, a judge may decide that incarceration is now a proper penalty for your case.
So, what constitutes a violation?
Probation violations come in many forms, and knowing the ways you can end up in jail can help prevent you from making a big mistake. Let’s look at the ways that people commonly violate their probation in Colorado.
Failing to Report to Their Probation Officer – This is one of the most common terms of probation that is violated. You will most likely have to report to your probation officer on a regular basis. After all, your probation officer’s job is to work with you to help you complete the terms of your probation. Regular check-ins or communication are generally required to go over your status, discuss where you are on completing your probation, and talk about what your next steps will be.
These rules are most important for convicted sex offenders to pay attention to. Being registered as a sex offender requires individuals to reregister and check in with local law enforcement on a regular basis, sometimes for the rest of your life.
Failing To Pay Court Fees, Restitution, Supervision Fees, and So on – For many low-income individual convicted of crimes, probation can seem like a trap. After all, fees must be paid to probation officers, the court, and possibly even the victims of the crime in question. Adults on probation must pay $50 a month for supervision fees alone. Often, these fees will be used to pay the probation officer’s salary – so if they aren’t being paid, a report will be made, and action will be taken quickly.
Traveling to Prohibited Areas or Contacting Prohibited People – Terms of probation vary based on the crime that was committed. For example, in cases of domestic violence or other forms of assault, you may be prohibited from contacting victims or being around specific areas where a victim resides. In addition to the terms of your probation, you may have to follow the terms of a protection order as well.
Areas may also be prohibited if you are convicted of certain sex crimes. Depending on the area of the state where you reside and have been convicted of a sex crime, you may have restrictions as to where you can live or loiter.
These terms should be looked over thoroughly with your lawyer and probation officer. You should make sure you understand where you can and cannot travel. In some cases, traveling out of state without the permission of a probation officer is considered a probation violation.
Using Prohibited Controlled Substances – Regular drug testing or sobriety may also be a term of your probation. Violating these terms may result in required counseling or treatment.
There are separate terms of probation offered in Colorado for Alcohol Probation (offered after DUI convictions) and Drug Court (for offenders dealing with substance abuse and addiction). These probation terms are more focused on activities and education that will help offenders move forward in living a safe, sober life.
Committing a New Crime – If you are on probation and allegedly commit a new crime, a judge will take that into consideration when deciding on your sentence and may impose additional penalties.
What Happens If I Violate My Probation?
If you violate a term of your probation, your probation may be revoked. A revoked probation has different consequences depending on the term that was violated and whether or not your actions resulted in other criminal charges.
A judge may impose the following penalties if your probation is revoked:
- Additional time added to your probation
- Required counseling or treatment
- Additional Fines
- Jail time
Unfortunately, the terms of your probation can be violated whether or not there is any criminal intent behind your actions, and the penalties you face will be the same. But a violation doesn’t have to be the end. Probation violation charges and penalties can be fought (or appealed) in court. If you find yourself facing a probation violation charge, contact a Colorado criminal defense attorney immediately.
About the Author:
Kimberly Diego is a criminal defense attorney in Denver practicing at The Law Office of Kimberly Diego. She obtained her undergraduate degree from Georgetown University and her law degree at the University of Colorado. She was named one of Super Lawyers’ “Rising Stars of 2012” and “Top 100 Trial Lawyers in Colorado” for 2012-2016 by The National Trial Lawyers. Both honors are limited to a small percentage of practicing attorneys in each state. She has also been recognized for her work in domestic violence cases.