If you’re charged with a crime in Missouri, arrange at once to speak with a Jefferson County criminal defense attorney. Whether the charge is a felony or a misdemeanor, and whether you are innocent or guilty, you are going to need a good defense attorney’s advice and representation.
When a Missouri judge sentences a convicted criminal offender, a term of probation may be ordered. As of 2019, more than 40,000 probationers were being supervised by the Missouri Department of Corrections.
If you are serving probation, what can occur if you violate the terms of your probation? How are probation violations handled in the State of Missouri? If you will continue reading, these questions are about to be answered in this brief discussion of probation and probation violations.
If You Are Charged With Committing a Crime
If you are charged with a crime in Missouri – even if it’s a low-level misdemeanor – do not accept any “deal” or plea bargain, and do not sign any document or agreement before you’ve met with a Missouri defense attorney.
When a suspect is taken into police custody, that person has the right to stay silent and the right to a lawyer’s advice. Do not resist the police officers if this happens to you, but exercise your rights – and decline politely to answer questions – until your lawyer can be there.
While a good defense attorney will always fight to have criminal charges dismissed or to have his or her client acquitted by a jury, if you are convicted of committing a crime in Missouri, there’s a good chance that probation will be ordered as a part of your sentence.
However, before a term of probation will be ordered by the court, a convicted offender must agree to adhere to the terms of probation and sign a statement to that effect.
What Are the Terms of Probation in Missouri?
Probation allows you to live at your home, attend school or work, and meet the conditions of probation by adhering to the law and behaving responsibly. The specific terms and conditions of probation usually include:
- Probationers may not violate any local, state, or federal law. Any arrest must be reported to the offender’s probation officer within forty-eight hours.
- Probationers must obtain permission for any travel outside of the jurisdiction where they reside and for any change of residency.
- Probationers must maintain employment and obtain permission for any change of employment. Quitting or being terminated from a job must be reported to the offender’s probation officer within forty-eight hours.
- Probationers may not associate without permission with any person who has a conviction for a felony or a misdemeanor.
- Probationers may not use or possess any controlled substance except as prescribed by a physician. Probationers are subject to unannounced drug tests.
- Those on probation for a firearms or explosives charge may not own, possess, buy, sell, receive, or transport any firearms, ammunition, explosive device, or dangerous weapon.
- Probationers must report as directed to a probation officer and pay a monthly intervention fee on the first day of each month.
- The Board of Probation and Parole, the court, and the probation officer have the authority to set special conditions for individual probationers.
What Constitutes a Violation of Probation?
Probation in Missouri emphasizes personal accountability while offering a practical alternative to prison or jail. It’s a chance that the State of Missouri has offered you to “make things right,” so you don’t want to violate probation or be accused of a violation.
A probation violation happens when a probationer breaks a condition of his or her probation. When you are suspected of violating probation, a report is sent to the court by either a probation officer or a prosecuting attorney.
The court may then issue an arrest warrant or a notification of a probation revocation hearing to the probationer. In Missouri, a probation officer may also issue a warrant for a probationer’s arrest upon learning of a violation.
How Is a Probation Revocation Hearing Conducted?
In a probation revocation hearing, in order to convict you of violating probation, the prosecutor must offer evidence that you violated probation either intentionally or through carelessness or negligence.
If you are on probation, you already have a criminal conviction, so if you’re prosecuted for a violation, you won’t be presumed innocent. You will not have the right to a trial by jury, for instance. Probation violation cases are decided exclusively by judges.
And because the probationer has already received a conviction for the underlying, original crime, the prosecutor’s burden of proof is not “proof beyond a reasonable doubt” but only a “preponderance” of the evidence that a term of probation was violated.
Speaking plainly, this means a prosecutor only has to prove that it’s more likely than not that the probationer violated a condition of probation.
The probationer and his or her attorney may then present their own witnesses and evidence in rebuttal. Your defense attorney will work aggressively to cast doubt on the prosecutor’s case.
How Are Probation Violations Penalized?
Admitting or denying an alleged probation violation is a decision that should only be made after consulting a Missouri probation attorney. If the court finds the probationer guilty of a probation violation, the court may:
- order the probationer to serve his or her full original sentence
- continue the probation with no change
- extend the period of probation and/or add additional terms to the probation
What Will Your Attorney Do on Your Behalf?
When a Missouri judge orders probation for someone, the court is offering that offender an opportunity to live in his or her own community, even with a criminal conviction.
If that individual is you, adhere to the conditions and terms of your probation and do not ruin your chance to avoid jail or prison. However, if you are accused of violating your probation in Missouri, there’s hope.
The right Jefferson County criminal defense attorney may be able to convince the judge that no probation violation occurred, or if it did, that you should still be permitted to continue on probation.
You lose some legal rights as a probationer, but you do not lose the right to have a lawyer advise and represent you. If you are charged with violating your probation, exercise that right, and contact a Missouri probation attorney immediately.