Probation Violation Lawyer in Charleston, SC
In some criminal defense cases, probation is the defendant’s ultimate goal – staying out of prison…
But, when things go wrong and the probation officer attempts to revoke your probation, you may once again be looking at a significant prison sentence. If you are facing a probation revocation in Charleston, SC and you want to maximize your chance of not going back to jail, you need to get an experienced criminal defense attorney to help you immediately.
What are the requirements of probation in SC? And what happens at a probation revocation hearing?
What is Probation in SC?
Many criminal offenses in SC that carry potential prison sentences can be “suspended” by the court at your guilty plea or even following a guilty verdict at trial.
When you are placed on probation, the judge first gives you a prison sentence. That prison sentence is then suspended, and you can remain free if you follow the requirements of your probation.
Probation in South Carolina may require:
- Checking in with a probation agent once a month or more;
- Drug tests;
- Supervision fees;
- Restitution and court costs;
- Home visits; and
- Public service.
If you are not complying with the requirements – not reporting, failing drug tests, or not paying the fees – your probation officer may serve you with a warrant for violation of probation and take you back to court.
What Happens at a Probation Violation Hearing in SC?
A probation agent will tell the court the reasons for the violation, and you will have an opportunity to respond.
At the hearing, you can:
- Admit the violation and present “circumstances in mitigation;” or
- Deny the violation and have a full hearing with witness testimony.
If the allegations are provably false, we can demand a hearing and present evidence or witness testimony to the court. On the other hand, if the allegations are true, you do not want to get into a swearing match with the probation officer in front of the judge – in the absence of compelling evidence, the court will believe the probation officer and your hearing is likely to go downhill from there…
What are “Circumstances in Mitigation” at a Probation Revocation Hearing?
Even if you admit the allegations, you can then present circumstances in mitigation. For example, you can:
- Explain why you violated the terms of probation;
- Demonstrate that, although you committed the violation, you have gotten back on track – you have a job, you can pass a drug test, and you have gotten your payments caught up; or
- Present character witnesses, character reference letters, photos, documentation of employment or enrollment in school, or any other evidence that would tend to lessen the severity of the violation or the need for punishment.
Am I Going to Prison if My Probation is Revoked?
This is why it is critical that your probation revocation attorney gets involved early – as soon as you find out that you have a probation violation warrant. Your attorney will need to investigate, talk to potential witnesses, collect documents and photos from you, and prepare your case before you appear in court.
The possible outcomes of a probation revocation in SC include:
- A full revocation of your probation – you will serve the full original sentence and probation is over;
- A partial revocation with termination – you serve a portion of the original sentence and probation is over;
- A partial revocation and continue probation – you serve a portion of the original sentence, but the remainder of the sentence is still held over your head. When you leave prison, you will still be on probation;
- The court could decline to put you in jail and simply continue your probation based on the evidence you present at the hearing;
- The court could order drug treatment or another alternate resolution; or
- The court can simply terminate your probation when appropriate.
As you can see, even when the court finds that you violated your probation, the judge has considerable discretion in sentencing and crafting the appropriate remedy – be prepared before you show up at your revocation hearing if you want to maximize your chance at staying out of prison.
SC Probation Revocation Attorney in Charleston
If you have been served with a probation revocation warrant in Charleston, SC, or if your probation officer has told you they are going to revoke your probation, call probation violation defense lawyer Grant B. Smaldone now at (843) 808-2100 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a free consultation.