For some people, being on probation causes little interruption in their lives. For others probation can be extremely burdensome. The sky is the limit on the number of conditions that a judge can impose on a defendant’s probation. Conditions can include: don’t leave the state; urinalysis twice a week; random home visits; random visits at work; community service; drug treatment; pay restitution; internet monitoring; no contact with certain individuals or businesses; psychiatric evaluations and counseling, etc. Some conditions imposed are illegal. Many people violate their probation because they did not devote enough attention and energy to what they needed to do. Others try very hard to comply with all the conditions but are dealt severe personal or financial setbacks that make compliance extremely difficult if not impossible. We have also seen many people accused of violations because of problems with the probation agent. Probation agents are overworked and underpaid. A single agent may be assigned several hundred probationers to supervise at any one time. Agents come and go, or are reassigned to different offices. Like all of us, they get new jobs, get promoted, or go out on maternity leave. Therefore, during a two year term of probation, a single defendant may have four or five different agents. Paperwork gets lost. Understandings between probationer and agent are forgotten. Things fall through the cracks. That's why we tell every probationer: “Make sure you are properly supervised. It is not your agent’s job to supervise you. It is your job to make sure you are properly supervised. At the end of your probation, make sure your file documents that you have done all you were required to do. If you have any concerns about that, get us involved sooner rather than later.”
If you think your agent is going to file a violation petition, get in contact with an attorney right away. The judge has the option to issue a summons for a violation of probation hearing; or the judge can issue an arrest warrant. We are often able to intervene early and secure an agreement from the judge to issue a summons rather than a warrant. That can keep you working and at home with your family. When someone is found to have violated his or her probation in Maryland, the judge can impose any portion of the suspended prison term and/or fine. How much of the sentence is imposed depends on the original crime, the subsequent violation, and the sentencing philosophy of the judge. Some judges go to extraordinary efforts to get the probationer to succeed and become a successful member of the community. Other judges have a view that if you come back on a violation of probation, you are getting most, if not all of the original sentence.
If you do not receive advice from your attorney about how to succeed on probation, you probably need a new attorney. An attorney can be extremely valuable is solving small probationary problems before they blow up into violations. Once a violation is filed, an attorney can help you get back into compliance before you have to appear before a judge. Then an attorney can be invaluable when it comes to defending against an alleged violation, or minimizing the consequences of being found in violation. If you wish discuss any matter regarding a probationary term or condition, please feel free to call us at 301-251-9001.