Probation is an essential part of any judicial system. As the saying goes, the punishment should fit the crime. And since all criminal offenses weren’t created equal, probationary periods allow juveniles and adults who commit less significant crimes to be fairly punished with a much cheaper method than incarceration.
And since more prisons are getting stacked full, judges choose to sentence more people to probationary periods nowadays. However, with more people on probation, problems arise.
For instance, significant pressure is being put on probation officers to keep track of all the people they’re in charge of.
Also, things like unemployment, social pressure, and a history of criminal activity lead more people to violate the terms of their probation. In which case, a probation violation warrant is issued.
If you’ve violated the terms of your probation and recently found out there’s a warrant against you. You can do the following. Hire a lawyer and try to prove your innocence to get the probation reinstated, get the warrant dismissed by appearing in court, or try for a legal discharge.
So If this sounds like a familiar situation, you can get the warrant cleared. So keep reading to learn how.
Reasons a Probation Violation Warrant May Be Issued Against You
Depending on what terms you’ve violated of your probation directly determines what route you should take towards clearing the violation warrant. To explain further, judges will likely dismiss your violation warrant or reinstate your probation if you’ve violated a less significant probation term.
On the other hand, if you’ve violated a major term of your probation, you will likely be unable to clear the warrant and possibly get arrested on your next encounter with a police officer.
Missing Your Community Service
Community service, also known as community restitution, is often included within an offender’s probation terms. It aims to benefit the community that the offender harmed with their crime. And most times, it’s considered the cornerstone of probation terms.
In other words, if you don’t show up to your community service, you can expect the judge to be less sympathetic towards you during the probation hearing.
Missing a Meeting With Your Probation Officer
A probation officer’s duty is to keep tabs on the people they’re in charge of to ensure they’re not violating the terms of their probation. They also report back all their findings to the court. So if you suddenly find out you have a probation violation warrant, it’s probably the information gathered by the officer.
On the other hand, if you’re out on probation, you have mandatory periodic meetings scheduled with your officer. And failure to appear at a meeting is enough to issue a warrant.
However, if you missed the meeting due to a medical emergency, you can get a signed paper from the doctor’s office, and the judge won’t issue a warrant against you.
Unapproved Association With a Felon
Most times, the terms of the probation include staying away from any known criminal associates you might have, mainly convicted felons.
So if someone decided to ignore that condition and did as little as hanging out with a criminal associate, that will lead to a probation violation warrant and potentially getting sentenced to time in prison.
Failing a Random Drug Test
If someone’s on probation due to a drug-related incident, more often than not, the probation terms include random drug tests. Also, it’s possible to be driving and get pulled over by an officer to take a roadside drug test.
In either case, testing positive for any recreational drug will be reported to the court.
Committing a Criminal Offense on Probation
A probationary period is often seen as mercy compared to incarceration. And its main objective is to integrate the offender back into the world and turn them into productive members of society.
So if the offender takes probation for granted and commits any criminal offense, their probation will definitely get revoked.
Crossing State Lines
Some probation terms include not being able to leave your current state since the probation officer won’t be able to tell if you’ve violated any of your terms. So leaving your state is enough to issue a warrant against you.
However, if you want to leave to meet the family on Christmas or thanksgiving, getting a permit from your probation officer to leave the state for a certain number of days is possible.
Using an Ignition Interlock Device
If you’re on probation for driving under the influence, you’ll be required to install an ignition interlock device in your vehicle. How the device works is that before you can start your vehicle, you have to blow into the device to test your blood alcohol level.
If your alcohol levels exceed the legal amount, the vehicle won’t start. However, people are finding ways to trick their ignition interlock devices. And doing so is a direct violation of probation terms.
Violating a No-Contact Order
In domestic abuse cases, the only way the offender can get probation is by issuing a no-contact order between them and the victim. If your probation officer discovers you’ve been in contact with the victim or the victim reports you to the police, you’ll have a warrant issued against you.
Clearing a Probation Violation Warrant
If you find out there’s a warrant against you, that means that at the first encounter with a police officer, you will be instantly arrested and brought to jail.
And choosing to ignore the warrant doesn’t mean your problems are over; it just means that five days, five weeks, or five months from now, you can be arrested and jailed for anything as minor as speeding.
So to avoid an unpleasant situation, it’s better to deal with probation violation warrants as soon as possible. Here are some options.
Getting the Probation Reinstated
Having a probation violation warrant against you means there will be a probation hearing where the evidence against you will be presented. At this point, the best outcome for the defendant is to get the probation reinstated.
This will require your lawyer to prove your innocence to the judge and show that the evidence they have against you is not enough to get your probation revoked. In that case, the district attorney can drop the charge, and your probation will resume.
Having the Warrant Dismissed
The main way to dismiss a warrant is by appearing in court before a judge. If you were charged with a misdemeanor, you’d have more options. Meaning that you can either go to court yourself, have your attorney go on your behalf, or you and your attorney go together.
On the other hand, if you’re on probation after being convicted of a felony, your only option to dismiss the probation violation warrant is to appear in court yourself.
Getting a Legal Discharge
A legal discharge is a kind of sentencing done by a judge where they recognize that a crime has been committed but choose not to impose any punishment on the defendant.
If you have a probation violation warrant issued against you, that will lead to a probation hearing. In this case, if your lawyer can prove your innocence against the evidence provided and get the judge to agree to a legal discharge, that would not only make the warrant go away, but the probationary period itself.
Turning Yourself in to the Police or the Judge
Lastly, the last option you have to clear a probation violation warrant is simply turning yourself in. This would lead to the warrant serving its purpose and you standing in a probation hearing. There are three possible outcomes to this.
First, you’ll be released with a warning. This means you’ll continue your probation, and no new terms will be added. Second, incarceration without bail. This outcome would be due to finding your violation unforgivable, in which case, your probation is revoked.
The last option is incarceration with setting bail. If your bail is paid in full, you can leave and return to probation.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Soon Can a Violation Warrant Be Issued?
Probation violation warrants can be issued as soon as evidence of your violation reaches the court. This could be as early as the same day of the violation or take up to three days.
Can a Probation Violation Warrant Expire?
No, once a probation violation warrant is issued, it stays valid until the issuing judge revokes it or the offender is apprehended. So if you choose to ignore the warrant, it will only lead to you getting arrested at your next encounter with an officer.
Can You Bail Out a Probation Violation Warrant?
This depends on the crime the offender committed. For example, if you’ve been charged with a misdemeanor, judges are more likely to set bail, while felons are less likely to receive that option.