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Pennsylvania Probation Lawyer

Experienced legal representation for parole violations

Sentences for crimes are determined by the trial judge assigned to a criminal case. The sentences are based on the guidelines set by Pennsylvania law. The guidelines apply to most criminal cases involving convictions by a jury, guilty pleas, and pleas of nolo contendere. The guidelines don’t apply to accelerated rehabilitative disposition (ARD) and several other sentencing categories. The most common alternative to serving a prison sentence is for the judge to provide a probation order.

At Statt Law, our criminal defense lawyers work aggressively to keep our clients out of jail. The best way to achieve this goal is to have the charges dismissed or to obtain an acquittal. Another way is to negotiate a plea bargain to a lesser charge – where the prosecution agrees to recommend probation in lieu of a prison sentence. An ARD is a program where first-time offenders are placed on probation for a set period of time.

The main difference between a sentence of probation and probation based on an ARD is that if someone violates a sentence of probation, they can be ordered to serve their sentence in prison- because a determination of guilty has already been made. If a defendant violates an ARD, then the defendant will be tried for the original crime that was the basis for the ARD.

What is probation in Pennsylvania?

A sentence of probation based on a conviction or appropriate plea is a way for you to stay out of jail if you are charged with a crime. It’s not a free pass though. Anyone on probation must comply with the conditions for probation set by the criminal trial judge. These conditions typically include:

  • Meeting with a probation officer on a regular basis. Regular usually means once or twice a week. The person on probation must be prepared to discuss the things he/she is doing to find employment, to address any underlying problems such as substance abuse, and to stay out of any further trouble.
  • Avoiding further misconduct. If someone on probation is arrested for another crime or is involved with a crime even though they’re not arrested – the government may seek to revoke their probation.
  • Completion of certain programs. A condition of probation may include, for example, a requirement that the person on probation attend an alcohol or drug abuse counseling program.
  • Community service. The judge may require that a person on probation complete a specific number of hours of community service.
  • Drug testing. You may be required to provide random blood or urine samples to test whether you’re using drugs or alcohol.

What is parole?

Many people confuse parole with probation. There are similarities but there are key differences. Parole is essentially a “get-out-of-jail” card. Prisoners may be released from prison if they meet certain conditions of good behavior while in prison. The parolee then still must comply with the rest of their sentence while they are out of jail. Compliance generally means meeting with a parole officer on a regular basis and making sure they don’t violate the terms of parole. For example, a new arrest may be a violation of parole. If a person violates parole, he/she may be ordered to serve the remainder of their sentence back in prison.

How are violations of probation and parole handled in Pennsylvania?

The answer depends, in part, on whether the sentence is a state or county sentence – especially for parole violations. There are usually three basic issues if you violate probation or parole.

The first issue is your rights while you are waiting for the judge to decide how to handle the violation. If you are charged with violation of probation or parole, a detainer may be issued. A detainer means you will be held in jail until a judge can determine how to handle your alleged violation and how to handle the new offense. Sadly, while the determination should be made quickly, many people in Pennsylvania, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer, are detained for long periods of time.

The second issue is how your sentence for the crime (the one you were given the sentence for) should be handled. If you violate probation, then a judge will have to decide if the violation means you should be confined to prison or if the terms of the probation should be changed. If you violate parole, it’s likely you will be ordered to complete your sentence in prison.

The third issue is how the violation itself should be handled. For example, if you commit a theft while on probation or parole, you can be charged with a theft crime. This means you will have to face a trial for theft – in addition to completing the sentence for the first crime you committed.

How do defendants violate probation or parole?

Some of the ways a person can violate probation or parole are:

  • Committing another criminal offense
  • Not meeting with your probation or parole officer
  • Not showing up for a scheduled appearance in court
  • Evidence of drugs in a drug test
  • Not complying with mandatory treatment programs
  • Not completing any mandatory community service

Make the call to an experienced Central PA probation or parole lawyer today

At Statt Law, our Pennsylvania probation lawyers understand how complicated the probation violation and parole violation process can be. We understand how each of these three concerns (detention, violation, and new charges) affects each other concern. We’ll fight aggressively to convince the trial judge that there wasn’t a violation or that the violation shouldn’t result in prison time. To talk with an experienced lawyer, call us at: (717) 537-0928 or complete our contact form to schedule an appointment.

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