A Georgia probation violation attorney can help you in the event that you are facing a revocation of probation. Your probation may revoked, at least in part, based upon a failure to follow any of the conditions of your probation. Something as simple as being around people that are charged with violating the law may be the basis for a revocation. Probation violations are reported to the Court by revocation petitions.
Probation in Georgia (and everywhere else in the United States) is a system of conditions under which a person convicted of a criminal offense can continue to live outside of a prison/jail. However, upon violation or failure to complete a condition of a condition of probation, a person can be removed from probation and revoked to jail or prison.
WHAT CAN HAPPEN AT A PROBATION REVOCATION HEARING IN GEORGIA?
Unless you were sentenced under the First Offender Act, your sentence cannot be extended by the sentencing court at your probation revocation hearing. However, at every revocation hearing, you face the possibility of being sent to jail for – up to – the balance of your sentence. So, don’t go to your probation revocation hearing without an attorney. Get prepared early and develop a plan to address the concerns raised by the probation revocation petition.
At the probation revocation hearing, the Judge can leave probation in place or add conditions in order to address concerns, if any, arising from the revocation petition. It is your lawyer’s responsibility to put together a compelling argument for allowing you to remain on probation. As I discussed in the context of bond hearings, it is generally advisable to have live witnesses appear and prepared to testify on behalf of the Defendant.
REVOCATIONS WHEN YOU ARE SERVING A FIRST OFFENDER SENTENCE IN GEORGIA
Probation revocations are more complicated and, potentially, more dangerous when you are serving a sentence under the First Offender Act. Potentially, you can be re-sentenced up to the maximum sentence allowed by law if you fail to abide by the terms and conditions of your First Offender sentence.
However, we must review the plea proceedings of the original case in which a First Offender plea was entered to determine whether you were properly advised of the consequences of a probation violation:
The order of defendant’s first offender probation provided that if the probation was revoked “the Court may order the execution of the sentence which was originally imposed or any portion thereof in the manner provided by law after deduction therefrom the amount of time the defendant has served on probation.” There is nothing in the record contrary to this provision. An identical provision in the probation order of a first offender caused the Supreme Court of Georgia to hold that a greater sentence could not be imposed.
“There is nothing in the record to indicate that (the defendant) was told he could get a higher sentence or that he would not be credited for time served on probation.
“If there is any doubt as to the effect of a criminal sentence the defendant will be given the benefit of such doubt. (Cit.) An accused is entitled to rely on the provisions set forth in the sentencing document if he is not informed to the contrary when the sentence is imposed. (Cit.) … (T)he court was not authorized to increase (the defendant’s) sentence when the probation was revoked …” Stephens v. State, 245 Ga. 835, 837, 268 S.E.2d 330.
The same opinion also stated: “We hold, therefore, that when a probationer is sentenced to serve time in a penal institution for the offense for which he has spent time on probation, that probation time must be credited to any sentence received, including cases involving first offender probation.” Id. at 837, 268 S.E.2d 330.
Lillard v. State, 156 Ga. App. 54, 55, 274 S.E.2d 96, 98 (1980).
Lillard obviously limits some of the potential exposure that a defendant facing a probation revocation while on First Offender might face, it does not remove the possibility of revocation to jail time. Further, it is essential to recognize that most First Offender sentences do include a review with the defendant of the possibility of re-sentencing of up to the maximum sentence permitted under the law.
If you are considering a plea under the First Offender Act, we strongly encourage you to speak with a qualified criminal defense attorney.
OUR PROBATION VIOLATION DEFENSE ATTORNEYS WILL DEVELOP A PLAN TO HELP YOU
For many people facing a probation violation in Georgia, the prospect of going to jail for the balance of the sentence is overwhelming. For many people facing probation revocations, the consequences can be so daunting that they fail to develop a plan to effectively address the probation revocation action.
Our criminal defense attorneys understand how to effectively address Georgia probation violations and revocation actions.
ETG TESTS AS THE BASIS FOR PROBATION VIOLATIONS IN GEORGIA
Probation offices throughout Georgia are increasingly relying upon EtG tests in an effort to detect alcohol consumption in violation of probation conditions. EtG tests are of questionable reliability in many cases, and there are challenges to these tests that should be raised. If you face a probation revocation based upon an EtG test, contact The Sessions Law Firm today.