Folks who plead guilty to a charge usually celebrate being on county probation at the end of a case. They think its great to avoid jail with county probation. Philosophically, a probationary sentence is what many courts consider a second chance. In the court’s eyes, you are a convicted felon or misdemeanant. But rather than put you in jail, the Judge orders you to serve an Intermediate Punishment (IP) or county probationary sentence. That judge doesn’t believe you belong in jail. For you this means that you can continue to work. You can sort of live your life.
However, the terms and conditions of county probation will severely limit your life. Plus, you will have a county probation and parole officer assigned to you snooping around at all times.
What they don’t often tell you is how many rules you MUST follow. For many, getting a probation system is a set up for failure. The judge through the county probation and parole office often imposes requirements that you cannot financially afford or are unable to complete. It becomes a tough choice. What do I do?
Mostly, it’s a lose-lose situation. County probation sentences are usually years long. Years. No one is perfect for years. What they also don’t tell you is that if your IP sentence is revoked, the judge can really hammer you. The original sentencing guidelines are out. The judge can re-sentence 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 and new charges.
Examples of technical probation violations in PA
- Testing positive for drugs or alcohol,
- failing to appear for a mandatory drug test,
- failing to pay your fines and costs,
- failure to complete your community service,
- being late for curfew,
- changing residence without approval, and/or
- losing your employment,
This is just a partial list as there are many rules that you must follow. Any misstep can result in a revocation of your probation.
If you get new charges that can violate your probation. 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 you lose. You have the absolute right to have a hearing before your probation is revoked. Likewise, you have the right to have an attorney to represent you at your revocation hearings. However, the bad news is that you sit in jail waiting for that hearing…. if you don’t get the right lawyer 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 or for release to house arrest or house arrest with electronic monitoring.
Pennsylvania has a two-phase hearing process for revoking probation. The Gagnon I hearing is a preliminary hearing. The Gagnon II hearing is the final hearing.
What is a Gagnon I 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. Ten days is a long time. In this amount of time, you could lose your job. That would be a disaster. It might make it so you can’t pay your bills. You lose your home. Your family wants nothing to do with a jailbird.
With The McShane Firm on your side, we can petition the court to get you over to the work release center or out on HA/EM 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. After hearing evidence, the court decides whether you violated the conditions of your probation. 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. We have done hundreds of these hearings.
If you are facing a probation revocation, call us immediately. Time is of the essence. We are here to help you. (717) 657-3900
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