In lieu of a jail or prison term, the New Jersey sentencing court has the option to impose probation which is a conditional and supervised release from detention. Probation may be extended or terminated early, depending on the defendant's behavior.
There are always certain conditions with probation. If you are under probation, you may be required to:
Probation compliance is monitored by a probation case worker. As long as you remain in compliance, your probation will continue and then expire without incident. If you violate any conditions of your probation, you can run into trouble.
If it is determined that you violated one or more probation terms, the probation case worker can file a Violation of Probation (VOP) complaint with the court. This complaint will specify the ways in which you are alleged to have violated your probation, and you will be required to attend a court hearing, usually before the same judge that imposed the original probation sentence. Failure to appear will result in a bench warrant for your arrest.
A VOP hearing has two parts. First, the judge will determine whether you violated your probation. This is followed by sentencing if the judge determines that you did. You have the right to have an attorney present during both parts of the hearing.
If you are found guilty of violating your probation, you may face several penalties. The judge may impose new conditions of probation that are likely stricter, or remove conditions that were previously imposed. The judge may also extend your probation term or terminate probation. The judge also has the right to resentence you, which may include a term that must be served in jail or prison. If the judge imposes a prison sentence, it will not be limited by the terms of any plea bargain you previously reached. Instead, the judge has the right to impose any sentence he or she would have imposed for the offense.
You have the right to appeal the outcome of a VOP hearing, whether you wish to appeal the findings, the sentence, or both. You have 45 days in which to file a Notice of Appeal. The best way to avoid probation revocation and a jail or prison sentence is understanding and following the terms of your probation. Understand that probation rules can be very complicated, as even accidentally missing an appointment or committing even a minor violation can result in stricter probation terms or jail time.
Have you been accused of a probation violation? You do not have the right to a trial by jury, but you do have the right to legal representation during your hearing. Contact an expert probation defense lawyer at the Law Office of Mark A. Bernstein today at (609) 665-3338 to discuss your case and protect your rights during your hearing.