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What if I Violate My Federal Probation?


Probation is typically a part of a sentence and normally follows incarceration. Due to the serious nature of sentencing, the violation of probation can have severe consequences. Recently, the United States Attorney’s office has been paying increased attention to tracking down individuals who have violated their probation. Although by no means an excuse, there are instances where an individual accidentally violates their probation. However, regardless of the reasoning behind the violation of your probation, the consequences will be equally harsh. Therefore it is critical that you are well versed on all of the terms and conditions of your probation. When in doubt you should always reach out to your criminal defense attorney for guidance to ensure that you are acting within the restrictions of your probation.

Common Probation Violations

The following is a list of the most common federal probation violations–this sample is by no means exhaustive:

  • Failing to report to your probation officer;
  • Failing to report a change in address;
  • Failing to receive approval prior to moving;
  • Failing to follow the specific terms of your probation;
  • Failing to submit a drug test or urinalysis;
  • Failing to pass a drug test or urinalysis;
  • Committing another crime while on probation.

What Happens When If I Am Sentenced With Probation?

Following sentencing with federal probation, you will immediately learn the terms of your probation. Once the federal judge imposes a sentence of probation, you and your attorney will go to the courthouse probation office where you will meet with your probation officer. Your probation officer will detail your exact situation and what he or she expects of you. To gain a further understanding of the terms and conditions of federal probation, please review 18 United States Code §3563. Likewise, if you wish to gain a further knowledge of the requirements of Florida state probation, please review Florida Statute § 948.03.

What If I Violate My Probation

If you believe you have violated your probation, you should immediately contact a criminal defense attorney. There will be a violation of probation warrant and depending on your situation there may be several different courses of action. In certain circumstances, you may be able to go before a judge and explain your case. In instances where you were hospitalized or if something was mailed to the incorrect address the judge will typically be understanding.

On the other hand, if there is probable cause to suggest that you willfully violated your probation the judge will inform you what they believe you did to violate your probation. Following this you will have a federal preliminary hearing where documentation and facts will be evaluated by a judge to determine if they support the allegations that you did, in fact, violate your probation. If the judge believes a violation has occurred you will be given written documentation that details what terms of your probation were violated.

If the judge believes a violation has indeed occurred, one of the following will typically happen:

  • The judge may decide to put you back on probation without any modification to your current situation;
  • The judge may alter or add additional time to the term of your probation;
  • The judge may decide to incarcerate you for a period of time.

Do You Need Help?

If you or someone you know is on probation is it important to have the guidance of a criminal defense attorney. Any potential violation of probation–both accidental and willful–must be handled quickly and carefully. It is never a good idea to let a violation linger and run its course. Attorney Deric Zacca is a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney with extensive experience in both Federal and State court that can assist you with any probation violation situation.