Probation Violation Attorney Grand Rapids MI
When faced with a charge of of probation violation in Grand Rapids, you should retain an aggressive probation violation lawyer to help you, such as attorney Daniel Hilf. A probation violation (also referred to as a VOP or a violation of probation), if established or proven in Court, places you at the Judge's mercy, who is allowed to sentence you again on your original conviction charge. Some Judges may be willing to give you another opportunity to complete probation and other Judges may feel that incarceration is the only alternative. The work your attorney performs on your behalf make the difference between going home and leaving through the back of the courtroom in handcuffs.
The Judge can handle a probation violation sentence in a few different ways:
- dismiss the violation and give you a warning;
- add to or change your probationary conditions (community service, mental health counseling, tether increased drug/alcohol testing, fines/costs, etc.);
- add time to your probation;
- loss of a diversion status (HYTA; 7411; 769.4a; 771.1; etc.)
- put you in custody up to the maximum possible sentence allowable by law.
Whenever you have to go to Court to face a probation violations, there is ultimately a choice of how you handle it. One choice is to plead guilty to the VOP. The other choice is to demand a hearing in front of your Judge to challenge the VOP. Before making either choice it is advisable that you hire attorney Daniel Hilf. Attorney Hilf will represent you in the most proper way by providing you with helpful advice and assist you in implementation of a solid strategy to face the probation violation.
For a probation violation you have certain legal rights:
- The right to a contested hearing in front of your Judge (there is no right to a jury trial);
- Right to be advised in writing of the alleged probation violations;
- Presumption of innocence;
- Right to be represented by a lawyer;
- The right to subpoena witnesses;
- The right to have your witnesses testify in Court;
- Prosecution has the burden of proof. Prosecution has to prove by a "preponderance of the evidence" that at least 1 accusation of probation violation is true. "Preponderance of the evidence" means the ability to show that the violation is more likely than not to be true. The prosecution only has to prove one violation only in order for the Judge to find that you violated probation;
- The right to be present in the courtroom for the probation violation hearing;
- The right to assist your lawyer in the defense of your probation violation;
- The right to cross examine any witness called by the prosecution;
- The limited applicability of the rules of evidence (hearsay testimony is allowed, which can be either to your advantage or detriment depending upon the circumstances);
- Right to be advised of the maximum possible penalty that the Judge can impose;
- If in custody you have a right to a probation violation hearing within 14 days after the arraignment or the court must release you from custody. If the probation violation is based on new criminal activity, the Judge can postpone the hearing to await to outcome of of the new case;
- The right to testify in your own defense of the probation violation(s). If you testify the prosecution and the Judge have the right to ask you questions under oath;
- The right to remain silent, and to have your silence not used or inferred against you in any manner;
- The right to appeal.
These legal rights only mean something if your lawyer helps you exercise these rights. To fight a probation violation allegation representing yourself is the worst possible decision. Never go it alone. In order to prepare and present the best defense to a VOP you need high quality legal counsel.
With every VOP there is a court arraignment of the allegations against you. Your lawyer may request the Judge to delay the probation violation hearing for a number of reasons including: scheduling issues; waiting the outcome of a pending criminal matter; need to find, contact, and subpoena witnesses; need for additional preparation of the hearing; desire to consult with an expert witness. It is up to the Court to grant or deny the adjournment request.
If the probation violation is based only upon failure to pay as directed, the Judge cannot lock up the person on probation or revoke probation unless the Judge finds that the person has not made a good faith effort to pay while on probation, and that the person on probation had the ability to pay as directed without suffering a "manifest hardship". When considering the issue of manifest hardship the Judge looks at: if the Defendant is employed; what the Defendant is able to earn; whether or not the failure to pay was willful; what financial resources the Defendant has; Defendant's employment history; if the Defendant is employable; what are the Defendant's basic living expenses (shelter, child support, medical expenses, food, clothing, etc.); the existence of any other relevant special circumstances. A probation violation lawyer, if he or she knows what they are doing, will help you address payment related issues with the Judge.
If the new criminal cases that formed the basis of the probation violation is dismissed, the prosecution still has the option to prosecute the probation violation allegations because the burden of proof for a probation violation (preponderance of the evidence) is much less than the burden of proof for a new criminal allegation (beyond a reasonable doubt). Also, often the probation officer files the violation based on the alleged conduct and not necessarily the conviction. For example, if a person's new criminal offense was for a DUI which got dismissed, the violation may be based upon the person's use of a motor vehicle (if the person was ordered to not drive without a valid license).
At hearing, some charges may require the assistance of an expert witness. An expert witness is someone who is given the ability to testify before the Court because he or she has special knowledge in a particular area that may assist the Judge in his or her determination. For example, if the issue is whether a person falsely tested positive to alcohol an expert witness may be able to convince the Court that the explanation offered is true and the positive test result was not due to voluntary consumption of alcohol. When it comes to presenting expert testimony at a probation violation hearing, you need a zealous and well prepared lawyer to represent you and explain your situation to the Judge.
At sentencing (if a plea or conviction occurs after a VOP hearing) the Defendant, defense counsel, prosecution, probation officer, and the victim of the underlying case all are allowed to provide statements to the Judge. Your lawyer, if experienced, can give you great advice how to possibly avoid or reduce any sentence by providing you with a comprehensive VOP sentencing strategy.Why Choose Attorney Daniel Hilf For Probation Violation Representation in Grand Rapids, Michigan?
- Years of legal experience handling probation violation allegations;
- Well prepared advocacy that is results oriented;
- Highly respected by Judges and prosecutors;
- A professional and well staffed office environment;
- Immediate steps taken to address your violation of probation;
- Return of telephone calls and messages;
- Will provide sound advice and recommendations as to the best way to defend the violation of probation accusations;
- If convicted of probation violation, will provide advice and recommendations to try and mitigate the possible sentence, and will address the sentence with the Court in a prepared, zealous manner;
- Compassionate, caring legal representation.
There are many lawyers who claim to handle probation violations, but in reality do not know what they are doing. Defending probation violations is a skill that develops over time with experience, legal acumen, preparation, and talent. Remember, hiring the right probation violation lawyer may be one of the most important decisions you make for yourself, your family, and your future.
Criminal defense attorney Daniel Hilf provides legal assistance for the following types of criminal matters:
- Probation Violation
- Retail Fraud
- Drug Offenses
- Criminal Traffic
- Other Criminal Offenses
- Sex Offenses
- Domestic Violence
If you have been charged with a probation violation or a crime, contact us immediately to begin working on your case.