Probation Violation Proceedings
Individuals on probation in state court or on supervised release in federal court may be accused of violating the terms of their release and face revocation proceedings. The alleged violation may be as serious as new criminal charges or as minor as failing to appear for scheduled appointments or filing required reports. Significantly, the standard for finding such a violation is preponderance of the evidence, far lower than the beyond a reasonable doubt standard of proof required for a criminal conviction. Whatever the alleged violation, the stakes in these proceedings are quite high since the client faces potential incarceration.
Because the stakes are significant, we approach revocation proceedings much like we approach any criminal charge. The first step is to determine, through thorough investigation, whether we can challenge the alleged violation in its entirety. Where there is a factual defense to the allegation or where new criminal charges have been brought, the revocation hearing may well resemble a criminal trial, though the defendant does not enjoy all of the same procedural protections and constitutional rights. In cases where the alleged violation is relatively minor in nature and can be readily established, our task is different– to convince the judge not to revoke probation or supervised release, but to allow our client to remain at liberty. In such cases, the revocation proceeding may more closely resemble a sentencing hearing than a trial. Whatever the circumstances, our goal remains the same– to obtain the best possible result for our client.