In the criminal justice system, every person is presumed innocent until proven guilty. To convict someone of a crime, the prosecutor must prove each of the elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt.
However, if you are accused of violating probation, there is a much different burden of proof at your probation violation hearing. Instead of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that you committed a violation of your probation terms, the prosecutor only needs to prove that there is a preponderance of evidence that shows you committed the violation.
Burden of Proof: Preponderance of Evidence
In law, there are generally three standards of proof:
- Beyond a reasonable doubt – This is the highest standard of proof, and it is what must be proven for a jury to convict you at trial.
- Clear and convincing evidence – This is typically used in restraining order cases where the individuals involved do not have a relationship that would qualify for a domestic violence restraining order. This standard of evidence means that the court must see photos, text messages, emails or any other physical evidence that clearly supports the claims made by the person seeking the restraining order.
- Preponderance of evidence – This is the burden of proof required for a judge to find that a person has violated at least one term of his or her probation. If the judge believes that it is more likely than not (or by 51% or more of the evidence) that the probation violation occurred, the court is required by law to find the accused in violation of his or her probation.
If you are accused of violating any of the terms of your probation, you will have a probation violation hearing. At the hearing, the prosecution must prove that you violated at least one of the terms of your probation by a preponderance of evidence.
The prosecution will attempt to show evidence that suggests it is more likely than not that you committed a violation of your probation.
Hearsay Evidence is Allowed at Probation Violation Hearings
Unlike a criminal trial, a probation violation hearing can include hearsay evidence. This includes statements made outside of court that reveal information about your alleged probation violation. So long as the evidence is considered reliable, the court will normally allow hearsay as evidence in a probation violation hearing.
For example, suppose you were convicted of a crime and as part of your probation you are supposed to attend counseling sessions. You miss a couple of the sessions without a reasonable excuse. The counselor calls your home and your roommate answers the line. Your counselor asks to speak to you, but your roommate tells him that you went to see a movie.
In a criminal trial, this evidence could be inadmissible as hearsay. In a probation violation hearing, it could be admitted as evidence to show that you intentionally and willfully skipped your counseling session, which would be a violation of your probation.
Will My Probation Be Revoked If I Am Found to Be in Violation?
If the court finds that you are in violation of at least one of the terms of your probation, it has many options as to the punishment imposed for your probation violation. The judge can:
- Terminate your probation and impose a jail or prison sentence
- Extend the term of your probation
- Impose new terms of your probation, including drug or alcohol classes if they relate to your underlying conviction, or
- Reinstate your probation on the same terms and conditions, meaning no new punishment will be imposed
The most important factor is how serious your violation is found to be. If you committed a new crime, you will likely be punished more harshly than if you failed to attend a meeting.
Our Attorneys Can Represent You at Your Probation Violation Hearing
Probation violation hearings are serious legal proceedings that can have life-altering consequences. That is why it is important that you speak to an experienced probation violation attorney as soon as possible.
At Wallin & Klarich, we have over 35 years of experience successfully defending clients at probation violation hearings. Let us help you now.
With offices in Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, Los Angeles, San Diego, West Covina, Torrance and Victorville, there is an experienced Wallin & Klarich probation violation attorney available near you no matter where you are located.
Contact our offices today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free phone consultation. We will get through this together.