This is the third post in my series on defending against the revocation of probation in Phoenix, Arizona. My last post discussed what can lead to revocation as well as the roles of both the supervising officer and the Judge. In this article I will discuss how a defendant can protect their interests when they are accused of having violated supervision.
As I discussed in my last post, the decision as to whether one’s probation has been violated is in the hands of the Judge. Assuming the act which violates supervision (such as failing to check in, failing a drug test, etc.) occurred, it will be necessary to convince the Judge that the violation does not warrant revocation and that the accused can succeed going forward. This can be done through witness testimony as well as other evidence. Additionally, it is entirely possible to avoid a revocation hearing altogether and instead enter into an agreement where the Defendant makes an admission to violation in return for being reinstated on probation. This is much like the plea bargaining process.
A revocation hearing is not a trial. There is no jury and, again, the Judge will make the ultimate decision. The Judge will typically hear arguments from the accused’s probation officer and, if the defendant committed another crime, from the arresting officer. Questioning of these witnesses will be handled by the prosecutor and the defendant’s lawyer will have the opportunity to cross-examine these witnesses. Your lawyer will have the opportunity to call witnesses on your behalf. It will be to your benefit to call witnesses such as an employer who will testify as to your being a good employee, neighbors and members of your community who can testify to your being a good citizen, and others. It will also be beneficial to submit evidence such as your attending school, maintaining employment, performing community service, etc. The Judge will typically issue a decision immediately after all evidence is submitted.
Defendants often err by believing that they will automatically be found to have violated their probation and that they will be sent to prison without consideration from the Court. This is not the case. While, in many instances, the defendant faces an uphill fight it should not be believed that revocation is automatic. And just because a Judge finds a violation of probation does not mean they have to go the extra step of revoking probation. Many Judges will recognize that sending a defendant to prison is not necessarily in the public interest – incarceration is expensive, ties up public resources, and often results in making defendants more likely to reoffend upon their release. These types of facts will often lead to a Judge granting a second chance to a probationer who has largely been successful.
If you or a loved one are accused of having violated probation then it is important that you contact a criminal defense lawyer. I assist Phoenix residents in such matters. I also represent Maricopa County defendants in Mesa, Glendale, Scottsdale, Chandler, and Gilbert and Pima County residents in Tucson.