8 Things to Know About Probation Violations in Colorado
If you’ve been charged with a probation violation in Colorado, know a loved one who has been charged, or want to avoid a probation violation, this article is for you. The United States has one of the largest correctional populations in the world. Probation allows individuals who are convicted of a crime to remain in the community, rather than be locked up in prison. But probation also involves certain risks. If you fail to comply with your terms of probation, your probation can be revoked and you can end up in prison.
Conditions of Probation
The only way to avoid violating probation is to first understand its conditions. The terms of probation vary widely from state to state and often include both broad and specific guidelines. In Colorado, the conditions of a specific individual’s probation are determined by a judge at sentencing. Depending on the individual’s specific needs, the terms of their probation might include specific requirements such as completing drug and alcohol classes, attending mental health counseling, performing useful public service, and paying restitution to a victim. The specific terms and conditions of probation will be detailed in a written agreement, that will be signed by the probationer.
Types of Probation Violations in Colorado
In general, there are two types of probation violations: rule violations and new law violations.
A rule violation in Colorado is a violation of one or more of the terms set forth in your probation agreement. This could include testing positive for drugs, failing to show up to a scheduled meeting with your probation officer, or violating any other term of your agreement.
By contrast, a law violation occurs when a probationer commits a new crime after being placed on probation. This includes any crimes, whether felony, misdemeanor or major traffic offense such as a DUI.
What Happens if I Violate the Terms of My Probation?
If the violation is a minor rule violation, your probation officer may give you a warning and give you another chance to make appropriate changes. However, the probation officer has the discretion to file a motion to revoke your probation and bring your case back to court. The probation officer will often contact the district attorney’s office for their position on how to proceed. A summons can be issued, requiring you to appear in court at a specific date and time. Worst case scenario: a warrant can be issued for your arrest, requiring you to be held in custody until a bond is posted.
Appearance on Motion to Revoke
At the first hearing, the Court will advise you of the allegations contained in the motion to revoke your probation. You are entitled to have an attorney, and if you cannot afford an attorney and qualify, you will be appointed a public defender. If you are in custody, you have the right to request a hearing to be held within 14 days. Often the matter is set for a possible disposition hearing to allow the defendant to find legal counsel and prepare a defense to the allegations.
What Happens Next?
Oftentimes an agreement can be negotiated with the district attorney’s office on how to resolve the motion to revoke probation. Depending on the underlying circumstances for the motion, at times an individual’s probation can be revoked and reinstated with additional terms and conditions. This could include more useful public service, additional classes, or even jail time. The court can impose up to 60 days of jail on a misdemeanor and 90 days of jail on a felony.
If the allegations in the motion are serious, or there has been prior requests to revoke probation, the district attorney may be looking at other sentencing options, rather than a reinstatement to probation. In these situations, a presentence report will often be ordered, providing written feedback from your probation officer. Other screenings such as a Community Corrections screening, for placement at the halfway house, are ordered. Now your attorney is trying to convince the judge why a community sentence is still appropriate over prison time. Though the district attorney may be pushing for prison, it is still up to the judge as to the type of sentence.
If the matter cannot be resolved, then there is a hearing on the motion. The hearing is held in front of a judge, not a jury. The district attorney has the burden of proving that you violated your probation. If the allegation is a rule violation, the burden of proof is “a preponderance of evidence.” If the allegation is a law violation, the burden of proof is “beyond a reasonable doubt.”
Knowing Your Rights
It’s important for probationers to know their rights when charged with a probation violation in Colorado. This is the best way to successfully complete your sentence and comply with your probation terms and conditions.
If you have more questions, or you need representation regarding a probation violation in Colorado, contact us. We are dedicated to working with you to help you move past your legal troubles.