A probationary sentence is what many courts consider a second chance. You have been convicted of a crime, but rather than put you in jail, the Judge orders you to serve an Intermediate Punishment (IP) or probationary sentence so that you can continue to work and live your life but be subject to strict supervision make sure you don’t commit future crimes.
What they don’t often tell you is how many rules there are to follow. For many, it seems the probation system is set up for failure – often imposing requirements that you cannot financially afford or are unable to complete because you have lost your driver’s license. It becomes a tough choice – do I risk driving without a license so I can make it to my probation appointment, or do I skip the appointment? It’s a lose-lose situation. What they also don’t tell you is that if your IP sentence is revoked, the judge can really hammer you, resentencing you to the maximum jail sentence even if you were almost done with your original sentence!
Types of Probation Violations
There are two ways you can violate your probation: Technical violations such as testing positive for drugs or alcohol, failing to appear for a mandatory drug test, failing to pay your fines and costs, or failure to complete your community service. This is just a partial list as there are many rules that you must follow, and any misstep can result in a revocation of your probation. The second way you can violate is to commit a new crime. If you are arrested and charged with a new crime while you are on probation, the probation department will file a petition to revoke your probation even before you are convicted of a new crime. Now you need a lawyer to fight both your new case and your probation revocation.
Know Your Rights
Simply filing a petition to revoke your probation does not mean that your probation is revoked. You have the absolute right to have a hearing before your probation is revoked and you have the right to have an attorney to represent you at your revocation hearings. The bad news is that you are going to be sitting in jail waiting for that hearing. The good news is that when you hire us to represent you for your revocation, we can petition the courts right away to get you over to the work release center while you await your hearing.
Pennsylvania has a two-phase hearing process. The Gagnon I hearing is a preliminary hearing and the Gagnon II hearing is the final hearing. The Gagnon I hearing is held shortly after you are detained – usually within 7-10 days of your detention. The purpose of the Gagnon I hearing is to determine if you must remain in custody while awaiting your full Gagnon II hearing. 10 days is a long time. In this amount of time, you could lose your job, which could result in losing your home, your family, everything. With The McShane Firm on your side, we can petition the court to get you over to the work release center while you await the Gagnon I hearing so you can keep your job. Many times, after you get arrested, your probation officer will come see you and try to get you to waive your Gagnon I hearing. They don’t always tell you what you are doing and what rights you are giving up. You should always consult with an attorney before waiving any of your rights!
The Gagnon II hearing is the final revocation hearing where the court makes a determination as to whether you violated the conditions of your probation, either by a technical violation or commission of a new crime. This hearing must be held within 30 days of the Gagnon I hearing.
The District Attorney and the Probation Department will present whatever evidence they have of your violations. Your attorney will have the opportunity to cross examine their witnesses and make argument on your behalf. Having a knowledgeable and experienced attorney at your side can help you fight to protect your rights and make sure you don’t get railroaded by the system.
If you are facing a probation revocation, call us immediately. Time is of the essence. We are here to help you. (717) 657-3900