Tennessee Probation Violations: What You Need to Know

Probation is one of the main sentencing options for individuals found guilty of a criminal offense in the state of Tennessee. Under this arrangement, individuals are required to adhere to various conditions in order to enjoy a greater level of freedom after being convicted. Violating these conditions comes with severe consequences.

To find out more about the handling of probation violations in the state of Tennessee and what to do in case you find yourself in such a situation, continue reading below.

What is Probation?

Probation can be defined as a sentencing option that makes it possible for convicted persons to remain outside of prison while serving their sentence – as long as they abide by specific court-stipulated conditions.

Common conditions for probation include avoiding committing other crimes, educational/employment conditions, substance testing and regular visits with a probation officer, among others.

Probation Violations

When an individual fails to keep up with the conditions of their probation, they are deemed to be in violation. There are two main categories of probation violations in Tennessee – substantive and technical violations.

Substantive Violations

These occur when the probationer is found to have committed a new crime. The consequences can be severe because these violations show that the individual is going back to their criminal ways.

Technical Violations

These violations occur when the person under consideration goes against the conditions set forth in the probation agreement. Common examples of technical probation violations include:

  • Failure to attend appointments with the probation officer.
  • Refusing to take a drug test or failing any stipulated tests.
  • Failure to meet educational and/or employment requirements of the probation agreement.
  • Traveling past stipulated boundaries or changing residency without the necessary approval.
  • Failure to perform community service.
  • Failure to meet “family responsibilities.”

When it comes to deciding how to handle probation violations, Tennessee probation officers enjoy a lot of discretion. For instance, a simple warning may be issued for being late for an appointment and any other similar minor infraction. However, you may have to appear in court and explain your actions in front of a judge, if you have committed more serious infractions.

Image is of a form for probation review, concept of probation violations

Consequences of Probation Violations

Instead of being confined in prison, probation allows convicted individuals to serve their sentences in the community. However, probation violations are not treated with the same level of leniency. These infractions can lead to serious consequences in Tennessee.

The discretion of the presiding judge, the individual’s criminal record, the seriousness of the original crime and the severity of the probation violation all influence the resulting consequences.

Good examples of some of the consequences you may face for violating probation include:

  • As previously mentioned, minor or first-time infractions may lead to reprimand or warning. Future infractions may trigger more serious consequences.
  • The court may impose more conditions. For instance, if you failed a drug test you may be required to meet with your probation officer more regularly and/or attend drug counseling sessions.
  • An extension of the probation period may be imposed by a judge. This means you will be forced to live under the stipulated restrictions for longer.
  • If you have committed a substantive violation or multiple infractions, a judge may revoke your probation and require you to serve the remainder of your sentence in prison.
  • You may also face an extended prison sentence if you are found guilty of a new crime.

A probation agreement is a legally binding contract that should not be taken lightly – especially considering the seriousness of the potential consequences.

Proving Probation Violations in Court

A judge will issue an arrest warrant for the accused when the court is notified of a possible violation. Afterward, a preliminary probation violation hearing will be held. Prosecutors will present evidence of the violation during the hearing – which the accused must attend.

The defendant also has the right to plead their case with the help of a qualified criminal defense attorney – just like they would in a normal trial.

However, it is important to note that the standard of proof for these hearings is much lower. In a hearing, the prosecution only needs to prove their case by a “preponderance of the evidence” instead of “beyond a reasonable doubt” – as is the case in criminal trials. Even with the lower standard of proof, the prosecution must use credible evidence to show that there was a violation.

Steps to Take If You Have Violated Probation

Given the serious nature of the consequences outlined above, it is important to act quickly if you think you have violated the conditions of your parole. You should take the following steps after committing a violation:

  • Acknowledge the violation and move to address it immediately.
  • Create an in-depth record of the circumstances surrounding the infraction.
  • Contact your attorney immediately and inform them of the violation. Make sure that you are honest and open about the entire situation.
  • Get ready for your probation violation hearing.

You can increase the chances of a favorable outcome by taking the right steps after violating your probation.

Call Today for Help With Your Probation Violation From an Experienced and Skilled Defense Attorney

Probation violations can have serious consequences. Fortunately, you can manage this situation effectively with the help of our qualified and experienced Tennessee probation violations lawyer.

To ease your mind and ensure that you have the necessary legal assistance, call Nash Law now at 615-NASH-LAW or fill out this form to schedule a consultation with one of our friendly and knowledgeable legal experts.

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