People who suspect that they have violated probation or are already facing a violation charge might ask, “What happens if you violate probation?” A probation violation in Minneapolis, Minnesota could result in a range of consequences, depending on the type and severity of the violation. Those consequences include reprimand from probation officers, enhanced supervision and stricter conditions, and probation revocation and incarceration. You may also face huge fines and additional penalties. A violation conviction in your criminal record can hurt your chances of securing employment in the future and building a career.
Your best bet at getting your charges dismissed, probation terminated, and avoiding severe violation consequences is to have a skilled criminal defense lawyer in your corner. The lawyer will examine your situation, thoroughly investigate the incident, and assemble the evidence required to successfully contest the violation. The lawyer may bring in an expert witness to provide an alternative explanation of the events or actions leading to your probation violation charge.
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Probation in Minnesota
Probation in Minnesota is an alternative to imprisonment imposed on criminal defendants by the judicial system. This period of supervised or unsupervised release can last anywhere from a few months to a couple of years, depending on the nature and severity of your criminal offense.
Courts usually suspend or stay jail or prison time to offer a defendant a chance to abandon criminal behavior and go back to normal life. Generally, the defendant must strictly abide by the specific conditions of his or her probation. Failure to do so could result in serious repercussions.
Types of Probation in Minnesota
Probation in Minnesota falls into two main categories:
Probation to the Court
A judge will place you on this type of probation if the only requirement of your sentence is to change your behavior and follow the law. Your duty in this situation is to observe the law strictly. However, if this probation type requires you to participate in community service and complete classes, you must submit documents to prove compliance to the court.
Probation to Community Corrections
A judge will almost certainly put you on this probationary type if your sentence includes other requirements on top of remaining a law-abiding citizen. The judge will decide the terms and requirements of your probationary period. A probation officer can sometimes determine those conditions.
Conditions and Rules of Probation
The probationary period constitutes several conditions and rules that a person must obey. These conditions vary from one defendant to another. They are based on the unique case details, the specific criminal offense, and the defendant’s criminal record.
A judge can impose any terms or regulations he or she deems appropriate, provided they are related to the crime. Failure to comply or complete the regulations amounts to a probation violation.
Some common conditions and regulations of probation are as follows:
- Follow all laws and pay any fines or restitution
- Avoid alcohol and drugs or complete a drug or alcohol program
- Have an ignition interlock device installed in your car
- Engage in community service
- Stay within Minnesota and regularly see your probation officer
- Wear an electronic monitor
- Surrender any firearms in your possession and avoid using or possessing one during probation
Consequences of Violating Probation in Minnesota
The consequences of probation violation in Minnesota depend on the type of crime, severity of the violation, and your criminal record. They include:
Reprimand From a Probation Officer
A probation violation can result in a warning or reprimand from a probation officer. This usually applies to accidental or irregular minor violations. This penalty may also apply to a first probation violation.
Increased Supervision and Stricter Conditions
Increased supervision is another outcome of violating probation terms and conditions. This penalty could include frequent meetings with your probation officer, curfew, wearing an electronic monitor, more surprise visits, and regular alcohol and drug tests.
The judge could impose stricter conditions to close the loophole that resulted in the violation. This move provides an opportunity for corrective action while enabling you to proceed with your probation with a better understanding of the value of compliance.
Revocation of Probation and Imprisonment
More serious or repeated violations often lead to probation revocation and incarceration. You will need to complete the rest of your suspended or stayed sentence in prison instead of on probation. The judge could impose maximum penalties for the underlying crime if your sentence was not stayed or suspended.
A probation revocation is the worst consequence of a felony probation violation. A felony lawyer can appear in court on your behalf during a revocation hearing and aggressively push for a better outcome. This is especially true if you are under felony probation and facing a violation hearing.
Fines and Additional Penalties
The court may order you to pay additional fines if it finds your violations more frequent or serious. It may also require you to do community service. In some instances, the court may opt to extend the probation period. This extension offers another chance to show your willingness to comply with court-ordered rules and regulations.
Effect on Future Employment and Career Prospects
A probation violation conviction may hurt your chances of securing employment and building a successful career. Most employers have strict policies concerning criminal convictions and hesitate to hire workers with criminal histories. As such, criminal background checks are part of their hiring processes.
Types of Probation Violations in Minnesota
Probation violations in Minnesota fall into two main categories:
This category applies to cases where the defendant’s action or lack of action breaches his or her supervised release conditions. The action or inaction does not necessarily need to be a criminal offense. Ignoring a court date is a technical violation.
New Law Violations
This category covers situations where the defendant gets arrested and charged for committing a new crime. Violations in this category are more serious and attract more severe consequences than those in the technical violation category.
Common Probation Violations in Minnesota
Substance Abuse and Positive Drug Tests
A judge may order you to remain sober and undergo regular drug or substance abuse tests, depending on the type and severity of your criminal offense. Continuing to abuse drugs or failing a test for the same qualifies as a probation violation.
Failure to Report to the Probation Officer
A supervised probation requires you to have an appointment with your probation officer. The officer is responsible for setting a schedule, which you must obey. Missing a meeting with the officer is a probation violation. The officer could report this action to the judge.
Failure to Attend Required Programs or Counseling
A supervised release may include court-ordered alcohol or substance abuse treatment programs or counseling. Ignoring these programs or missing some sessions without justifiable reasons could lead to a probation violation.
Committing New Criminal Offenses
Remaining law-abiding is one of the most fundamental conditions of any probation. So, committing a new criminal offense qualifies as a violation of your probation terms.
Failure to Pay Fines or Restitution
A judge may order you to pay fines or monetary damages to the victim, depending on your crime. The judge will then set a payment schedule for the fines and restitution. Being late on payments or ignoring them altogether amounts to a probation violation, unless you have a justifiable reason.
Failing to Attend a Court Hearing
Attending additional court hearings may be part of your probation terms. These hearings allow a judge to assess your progress. Missing these hearings violates your probation conditions and could result in severe penalties.
Visiting Prohibited Locations or People
Avoiding locations or people linked with crime could be a condition of your supervised release. A judge may, for instance, order you to avoid any form of contact with members of your former gang. The judge may also require you to keep off areas associated with that gang. Communicating with these people or visiting their locations could be deemed a probation violation.
Traveling Out of Minnesota Without Notifying Your Probation Officer
A supervised release requires you to stay within the state for regular meetings with your probation officer and other forms of supervision. You must notify your probation officer before moving out of the state. Traveling out of your state without permission from the officer is a violation of your probation conditions.
How to Avoid Probation Violations
Knowing how to avoid probation violations is instrumental in keeping your freedom and completing the supervised release period successfully. Here are tips to practice during your probation:
Understand and Follow Probation Rules and Conditions
Your ability to understand and obey court-ordered rules and conditions can mean the difference between a failed and successful probation period. Carefully review and familiarize yourself with your supervised release terms and conditions. Do not ignore any condition, no matter how minor it seems.
Keep a diary to document your progress and accomplishments. This diary will prove your commitment to complying with court-ordered conditions.
Cultivate a Strong, Positive Relationship With Your Probation Officer
Your probation officer wields vast power over your freedom and the success of your probation period. So, you must build a strong and meaningful relationship with the officer to better your chances of completing your probation sentence successfully. You can do that by maintaining honest and effective communication with the officer.
Attend all scheduled appointments with the officer, and feel free to share any significant life changes and accomplishments. Also, mention any challenges you are experiencing in complying with the court-ordered conditions. The officer may provide resources or make the necessary modifications to make things better for you.
Keep Your Records
Store all probation-related information, receipts, and documentation in a special folder. Do not leave this task to your probation officer. Obtain and preserve all receipts of fines and restitution payments. Also, keep all records of attending appointments with your probation officer, court hearings, and required programs or classes.
Seek Legal Support
Court-ordered terms and conditions contain legal terminologies that can confuse someone with little or no legal knowledge. As such, you should constantly seek legal advice from a lawyer knowledgeable in probation issues.
The lawyer will discuss what to expect on probation in Minnesota and answer any questions you may have regarding the set terms and conditions. The lawyer can also safeguard your best interests and protect your freedom in the event of legal issues in the course of your probation.
Demonstrate Commitment to Comply After a Probation Violation
Keep following other terms of your probation even after committing a violation. Keep reporting to your probation officer, performing community service work, and paying court fines and restitution. Doing this shows that you acknowledge that you made a mistake, and it was not deliberate.
Also, make an effort to rectify your mistake as soon as possible. If you failed to pay fines or restitution because of job loss, for instance, provide evidence that you are aggressively searching for a job to continue meeting your financial obligations. If your drug tests were positive, provide proof that you have cut ties with people and situations that may have derailed your sobriety journey. Proof of seeking rehabilitation can also prove helpful.
Inform your lawyer about the violation. A lawyer conversant with probation law in Minnesota will assess the circumstances of the alleged violation and advise you on what to do. The lawyer will also devise strong defenses and arguments in case the prosecution brings a probation violation charge against you.
Petition the Court for an Early Probation Termination
It is possible to secure an early probation termination in Minnesota. However, you must have served more than half your probationary period. You must also have met your probation requirements and formally petitioned the court for an early termination.
Your lawyer can file the petition for an early probation termination on your behalf and represent your interests at the hearing. Complying with your probation conditions does not guarantee an early termination, however. The court grants early probation termination at its discretion.