Knowing how to beat a probation violation can help you maintain your freedom and avoid or minimize the consequences of a conviction. You can achieve that by hiring a knowledgeable attorney, compiling evidence to build a robust defense strategy, and cooperating with your probation officer. Familiarizing yourself with your legal rights and obligations during the violation process can also help you defend yourself.
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Understanding Probation Violations in Minnesota
Probation in Minnesota is an alternative to jail or prison time imposed on an individual after a conviction or guilty plea. A person on probation must satisfy certain conditions and regulations set by the court. Failure to follow the set probation conditions and rules is deemed a probation violation.
The consequences of a violation conviction include a warning or reprimand by the court and modification of your probationary conditions. More serious violations may attract fines, restitution to the victim, and a requirement to carry out community service work.
Fines and restitution are a monetary penalty. Community service work, on the other hand, is a punishment that positively impacts the community.
The court can also revoke your probation and send you to jail to serve your original sentence. This is especially true if you are under felony probation. Minnesota often fails people on felony probation by imprisoning them within three years.
Different Types of Probation Violations
Probation violations can be either direct violations or technical violations. Direct violations cover incidences when an individual intentionally breaks the set terms and conditions. Failing to attend drug counseling sessions or using drugs are perfect examples of direct violations.
Technical violations are unintentional offenses. When facing technical violations, it is easy to demonstrate that an error is not directly your fault. An error-related violation occurs when you believe that you have completed your probation term. You may unknowingly violate the court-ordered terms and guidelines if you make an error when counting the length of your probation period.
Requirements and Conditions of Probation in Minnesota
In Minnesota, probation requirements and conditions vary from case to case. The most basic requirement is that you should remain law-abiding and avoid committing new crimes. Other probation requirements include attending mandatory counseling, obtaining and keeping a job, and staying away from individuals or areas associated with crime.
The court may order you to engage in community service, maintain regular meetings with your probation officer, and pay fines. It may also require you to abstain from alcohol, drugs, and other intoxicants if you have a drug abuse problem. Attending an anger management class can also be part of your probation requirements.
A judge will tailor the above terms and conditions based on the specific type of your crime and your criminal record.
Steps to Take When Accused of a Probation Violation
Hire a Probation Violation Attorney
The first step following a probation violation accusation is to hire an attorney well-versed in probation laws and experienced in handling probation violation cases. You stand a better chance of successfully completing probation in Minnesota with such an attorney on your side.
The attorney will explain the probation process and ensure you know what to expect during the violation hearing. Your attorney can argue against the case brought against you, especially if it is founded on weak assertions. Your attorney will also coach you on presenting your testimony before the judge. Proper preparation will add credibility to your testimony and make it more convincing.
Gather Evidence to Support Your Case
Strong evidence can improve your odds of winning a probation violation case. Besides supporting your case, strong and compelling evidence can help refute proof and arguments presented by the prosecution team. Witness statements, phone records, surveillance camera footage, and credit card statements can, for instance, help you prove that you did not communicate with former gang members or visit crime hotspots. Medical records can help show that you missed a court hearing or meeting with your probation officer due to hospitalization.
Communicate and Cooperate With Your Probation Officer
A probation officer’s main role is to help probationers stay out of trouble throughout their probation period. That way, the probationer can return to normal life and re-integrate into the community. So, it is essential to maintain open communication with the officer and be cooperative.
Discuss the challenges you are facing in your efforts to fulfill probationary conditions and ask for help. Doing this demonstrates your commitment and willingness to adhere to court-issued conditions.
Understand Your Rights During the Violation Process
As a defendant, you have the legal right to be represented by a lawyer. In addition, you have the right to call witnesses and testify on your own behalf. Knowing your rights allows you to exercise them and effectively defend yourself during the violation hearing.
Building a Strong Defense Strategy
It is easy to panic and get overwhelmed by emotions when accused of violating your probation. The reason is a probation violation conviction can result in serious consequences, such as stricter supervision, job loss, reputation damage, and imprisonment. Do not panic. Instead, focus on building a robust defense strategy.
Work closely with your attorney if you are facing false probation violation accusations. A knowledgeable attorney will know the evidence and arguments required to question the credibility of the prosecution’s evidence.
Affirmative defenses may be ideal if you have violated some probation rules. These defenses involve admitting that you committed the probation violation, but with a valid reason.
An example is when you fail to pay fines as directed by a court due to a lack of money caused by job loss. Your attorney can present evidence that you are actively sending job applications and will make the necessary payment soon. The court may modify the payment schedule to suit your current situation and dismiss the probation violation.
Review the Terms and Conditions of Your Probation
Each probation condition is essential to a successful probation period in Minnesota. So, take the time to review the conditions and requirements of your probation. Doing this will help you determine whether you have violated any condition. If so, devise a corrective action to prevent similar blunders in the future.
Be sure to document your progress and success. You can then use the documentation to prove your willingness to adhere to probation conditions. Your documentation may include evidence of attending appointments scheduled by your probation officer and engaging in community service work.
Identify Inaccuracies or Errors in the Probation Violation Report
Your felony lawyer can review your felony probation violation report for inaccuracies and errors. For instance, if you missed a court date, it may be because you were not informed of the court session. If the summons were sent to the wrong address, this may not be your fault if you had filed your address correctly. If the filling dates are incorrect, the judge may dismiss your probation violation. Any error identified in the probation violation report can form part of your defense.
Present Evidence to Challenge the Allegations
During the probation violation hearings, the prosecution must demonstrate that you violated a term or condition. The prosecutor must also prove that the violation was intentional. In addition, the prosecution must demonstrate that imprisonment is more appropriate than putting you on probation.
After the prosecution team has presented its case, you will get a chance to present evidence to challenge the allegations. The evidence may include adherence to your probationary terms and contact with your probation officer.
Your attorney can present a solid counter defense in a case involving a failed drug test. The underlying reason for failing a drug test may be incorrect administration. You can present medical records as evidence if you failed to report to your probation officer due to hospitalization.
Present your counter evidence if the prosecutor falsely accuses you of contacting an alleged victim. It may be that the alleged victim of a crime is the one who approached you and not as alleged by the prosecution. Have your witnesses ready to testify on your behalf if they were at the scene.
Showcase Efforts Made Towards Rehabilitation and Compliance
If a probation violation can be corrected as ordered by a judge, work on its execution. For instance, if a judge ordered 100 hours of community service, complete those hours.
While not every probation violation can be corrected, you can demonstrate efforts to address your shortcomings. An example is failing a drug test. There is no way to address that unless you prove the test was incorrectly administered. Seek treatment if such a situation applies to you.
Avoid drug use and voluntarily take drug tests. Raking a pile of clean tests while also attending Narcotics Anonymous (NA) meetings demonstrates your commitment to rehabilitation and compliance.
Demonstrate commitment to live a crime-free life by positively contributing to your community. You can do that by walking or running for causes, volunteering in community programs, and attending community events.