If you have been charged with violating your probation, a skilled Colorado attorney will know many defense strategies that you can potentially use to help you fight back. Which defenses are right for you will depend upon a number of factors, including the nature of your violation.
Because of this, below we’re going to talk about the different ways probation may be violated in Colorado, as well as several defense strategies that could work in your case.
Understanding How Probation Works in Colorado
Probation is a type of sentence that keeps an offender out of jail or prison. The individual can participate in normal activities within the community as long as he or she abides by the various restrictions described in their probation terms.
If you are serving a probation sentence, you can expect it to last between one and five years. Violations will result in the possibility of further penalties being set by the court, which is why you need the help of a knowledgeable Denver criminal attorney if you are facing charges.
Evaluating a Probation Violation
A probation violation can take many forms, including:
- possessing a weapon
- testing positive for drugs or alcohol
- traveling outside the restricted area
- failing to report to a probation officer
All conditions of the probation must be met, and no new crimes can be committed during the probation period.
The court may handle a probation violation through a court appearance or administrative actions. A skilled lawyer will work to have the case handled out of court, which will help to reduce the penalty level.
Judges evaluate probation violations based on the risk of serious harm. If the risk is high, incarceration may be required. If the violation presents no risk to the community, other penalties will be administered in proportion to the level of violation.
The goal of the courts will be to rehabilitate the offender and keep him or her from reoffending. In most circumstances, low-level offenses will be handled administratively to help the offender complete the probationary period.
This allows the offender to nurture family relationships, keep or seek a job, pay restitution, perform community service, and receive counseling or treatment.
Potential Probation Violation Strategies
Here are various defense strategies a skilled attorney may use to battle your charges.
Lack of Sufficient Funds
If your probation violation involved failure to pay fines, child support, restitution, or any other payment required by the court, your attorney will have several strategies. They may be able to negotiate partial payment rather than payment in full. Or set up different payment plans. Alternatively, additional community service hours may be negotiated instead of restitution.
Failure to Report
If you are not able to report to your probation officer, the court may waive your penalty if your reason was truly involuntary, such as hospitalization. Evidence will be necessary to support your claim.
Failure to Submit Documents
You may be required to participate in various educational or treatment programs as a term of your probation sentence. Even though you may have completed the program, you may be in violation if you have not submitted the necessary paperwork. Late submissions are usually accepted by the court.
Failure to Complete Educational Program
If you were ordered to complete a GED program, but cannot do so because of learning disabilities or mental impairments, a judge may waive the requirement and lift the penalty.
Positive Drug Tests
You may have falsely tested positive for drug or alcohol use for many different reasons. Defenses include faulty testing equipment, incorrect testing procedures, interference from chemicals like hairspray, or the consumption of certain foods.
Additionally, you may test positive because you are using a prescription drug, including medical marijuana. Providing evidence of prescriptions and doctor’s appointments can clear you from a violation charge.
In some cases, you may have had the controlled substance in your body before you were placed on probation. The substance may show up on a test days or weeks after you used it. A skilled attorney will know the laws and how they apply in your situation.
Committing a New Crime
A new criminal charge will require the judge to set a new bond amount, which may result in incarceration. The bond amount is set based on the defendant’s prior criminal activity, the risk level of the probation violation, and the judge’s discretion.
Since many variables are at play with a new criminal charge, it’s essential to seek the help of an experienced Denver criminal defense attorney to try to get your charges reduced or dismissed.
Your lawyer may negotiate electronic monitoring, closer supervision, or a plea bargain to reduce your sentencing. Reach out today to speak with a knowledgeable attorney about the possible defenses for your case.
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 and 2013 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.