Probation Violations​

Probation Violations

One form of consequence that the court may impose once a person has been convicted of a crime in North Carolina is probation.  A person on probation must meet certain requirements to satisfy the terms of probation such as paying money to the State, complete community service, completing treatment, commit no criminal offense in any jurisdiction, and or meeting with the assigned probation officer.  In order to successfully complete probation, all the terms must be met, if the terms are not met the probationer will be subject to a probation violation.

What happens when probation is violated?

Probation is violated when a person ignores, avoids, refuses or otherwise breaks the terms of probation set forth by the court.  Once a violation occurs, a probation violation report is issued, and the probationer may be subject to arrest. (NCGS 15A-1345(a)).  A probation violation hearing will be set to determine if there was a violation and if probation should be revoked.

If the probationer is arrested due to the probation violation, the probation is subject to a prehearing release to set bail for release.  However, if there are pending felony charges or the probationer has every been convicted of a reportable sex offense, the court will determine if the probationer poses a danger to the public before determining any conditions of release.  (NCGS 15A-1345(b) ).

Preliminary Hearings

A preliminary hearing is held within 7 days of a probationer being arrested to determine if there is probable cause to believe that a violation occurred.  This hearing must be heard within seven days of the arrest unless the probationer waives the preliminary hearing, or a final hearing is head first.  If the hearing is not heard within 7 days and those conditions aren’t met, then the probationer is released pending a final hearing.  This does not mean that the violation is dismissed, but that the probationer can no longer be held. (NCGS 15A-1345 (c)-(d))

If bail is set at the prehearing release and met or if there are pending charges where bail is not mandated, a preliminary hearing is not required.

Final Hearings

A final hearing is conducted before a judge in the district where the probation was imposed, where the probationer currently resides, or where the alleged violation took place.  The judge will hear evidence from both sides and the State must present evidence to reasonable satisfy the court that a willful violation occurred or that the probationer violated without a lawful excuse.  The probationer may offer evidence to the court that they were unable to meet the conditions of probation.  If this evidence is presented the court must make writing findings of fact showing that this evidence was considered. 

Probation Violation Hearing Outcomes

Once a violation has been determined, there are a number of outcomes that may occur.

  • Continue probation with no change.
  • Modification: The court may modify the terms of the probation, which includes adding terms to the current probation conditions.
  • Extension: The court may continue the conditions of the current probation in the one of the following manners:
    • Extensions under NCGS 15A-1344(d): This extension can occur any time prior to the expiration of the current probation conditions for good cause.  A violation does not have to occur.  The probation can be extended for up to 5 years.
    • Extensions NCGS 15A-1343.2 This extension can be used to extend the probationer’s period of probation by up to 3 years beyond the original period of probation, including beyond the five-year maximum, if all of the following criteria are met:
      • (1) The probationer consents to the extension;
      • (2) The extension is being ordered during the last six months of the original period of probation (note: if probation has previously been extended, the offender is no longer in his or her original period of probation); and
      • (3) The extension is necessary to complete a program of restitution or to complete medical or psychiatric treatment
    • Termination: The court may terminate probation any time based on the conduct of the defendant and the ends of justice.
    • Contempt (S. 15A-1344(e1)): The court may hold the probationer in contempt if a willful violation is proven beyond a reasonable doubt.  This carries up to a 30-day jail sentence.
    • Revocation: If the court revokes the probation, the suspended sentence is activated typically in the same form it was entered by the sentencing judge.

Keep in mind that you have rights and options while on probation.  A Criminal Defense attorney experienced in probation violation hearings can help you understand your rights and navigate they system to avoid further penalties. Call the Law Offices of Anna Smith Felts, PLLC to zealously represent you in a probation violation hearing by calling 919.834.3790.

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