Probation Violation Attorney Waterford MI
If you receive a court hearing notice for a probation violation, you should immediately obtain a lawyer with the experience and ability to properly defend your probation violation, such as attorney Daniel Hilf. A probation violation (also known as a violation of probation or VOP), places you at the mercy of your Judge when it comes to imposing a sentence. Some Judges give breaks and provide second chances depending upon the reason for the violation. Other Judges are more inclined to order jail or prison, because they feel that probation is a waste of time if you cannot comply with the probationary sentence. The defense or mitigation your attorney performs may prove being the difference between a second chance and being incarcerated. If your case is from Waterford Michigan, and you are on probation with a Judge from the 51st District Court in Waterford or the 6th Circuit Court for Oakland County, these Judges are sometimes strict in the manner they treat probation violations.
When it comes to probation violations, there are different possible outcomes from your Judge:
- add probation conditions on top of what you already have (counseling, alcohol testing, community service, fines/costs, etc.);
- make probation more harder by increasing what you already have (more frequent drug testing, additional community service hours, etc.);
- make your time on probation longer, by extending the date that probation terminates;
- have a suppressed conviction entered against you, if it was previously kept off your record through a diversion type program (7411; HYTA, 769.4a; 771.1; etc.);
- issue a warning for you not to violate again, and continue your probation with the Court;
- ordering the loss of your freedom in jail or prison, depending upon limitations based upon the maximum sentence the charge carries;
- choosing any combination of these potential above listed outcomes.
Your first step for a probation violation is to wisely choose your lawyer. Procedurally, with every probation violation allegation there is an arraignment that occurs at the first court date, where the Judge has the option of setting a bond amount. Even though you are presumed innocent, the Judge can choose to have you incarcerated during the probation violation proceedings if he or she feels that you are a flight risk or a danger to the community.
Once you have a lawyer in place, you will have to make a decision with your lawyer's help about how you want to proceed. There are only two possible choices: have a hearing to fight the probation violation or plead guilty to the VOP charges. If you hired the right lawyer, you will receive options as to best defending the accusation, and steps that you can take to help you improve your chances if you are convicted after a hearing or by plea. Your VOP attorney ask for an adjournment or delay for a number of reasons including: need to subpoena witnesses; need for additional preparation; desire to consult with an expert witness; scheduling issues; waiting the outcome of a pending criminal matter. It is up to the Judge to decide, after listening to your lawyer, if the request to adjourn the proceedings is granted or denied.
In all Michigan courtrooms, you have due process rights to make sure the violation of probation is handled in a fair manner that comports with due process of law:
- the right to hire the attorney of your own choice. Most Judges will provide additional time to hire an attorney if you make the request;
- the right for probationer who are taken into custody to have the probation violation hearing take place within 14 days of the arraignment;
- the right to be advised of the alleged probation violations against you, and the maximum possible punishment that the Judge can order if the violations are established to the satisfaction of the Court;
- the right to a hearing in front of the Judge that you are on probation with, where the accusations can be fully contested;
- the right to assist your lawyer in your defense defense. You will have the opportunity to examine the exhibits, see and hear all the witnesses testify, and communicate with your lawyer;
- the right to cross examine prosecution witnesses who are called to testify at the hearing against you;
- the right to subpoena witnesses to compel their attendance at your VOP hearing and have those witnesses offer testimony concerning the alleged probation violation;
- the right to offer your own testimony at the VOP hearing, if you want to, and the right to remain silent if you don't want to offer testimony;
- the right to have your Judge presume you innocent, unless at least one violation can be established against you to the satisfaction of the Court;
- the right to have the prosecution try to prove its case by a preponderance of the evidence (show that it is more likely that not true) that you violated at least 1 condition of your probation, and to be continued on probation if the prosecution cannot meet this burden;
- to seek review of your VOP conviction by a higher court.
The above listed rights only have worth if you have professional, effective legal counsel. Representing yourself is the worst option, because only a skilled VOP attorney has the proper legal acumen, courtroom experience, and emotional detachment to present your case in the best possible light.
If you have a new criminal charge the you believe will be dismissed, you still need an outstanding lawyer for your probation violation. Even with a dismissal, the prosecution still can proceed against you, because the prosecutor's burden of proof for a probation violation (preponderance of the evidence) is significantly less than the burden of proof for a criminal charge (beyond a reasonable doubt). The rules of evidence do not even apply in the same manner at a probation violation hearing (for example, hearsay evidence is allowed), which also can make the prosecutor's job much easier. Another problem is that the behavior that allegedly lead to the arrest might still be an issue that needs to be addressed. For example, if a probationer's dismissed criminal charge was for DUI, the probation violation may be based on having a positive PBT reading for alcohol when stopped.
If the probation violation is based upon unpaid restitution, poverty is not always a defense. In order to place the probationer in custody and/or revoke probation the Court needs to make a determination that the probationer failed to make a good faith effort to pay the money owed, and that the probationer had the ability to pay without suffering a "manifest hardship". There is no precise legal definition for what constitutes a "manifest hardship" in Michigan and Judges are given a list of factors to weigh and consider to decide if it exists. The factors are: whether or not the probationer is employable; what financial resources (if any) the probationer has; what are the probationer's living expenses (clothing, food, shelter, child support, medical expenses, etc.); what the probationer has the realistic ability to earn; if the probationer currently has a job; the probationer's complete employment history; whether or not the failure to pay was on purpose; the existence of any other special circumstances that are relevant to the Judge's determination.
Some probation violation defenses are built on the testimony of an expert witness. An expert witness is a person with qualifications to give an opinion in a particular field (such as chemistry, engineering, medicine, etc.) based upon special knowledge they have that may assist the Judge. For example, if the probationer tested positive for alcohol and swears up and down that he did not drink any alcohol, an expert witnesses in certain situations may conclude that the likely positive test was due to faulty or contaminated testing procedures. Needless to say, a person without a lawyer would not have the ability to offer the Court expert witness testimony in a meaningful way.
If convicted of the VOP, the Court is required to give you and your lawyer a chance to speak before imposing sentence. If you retain a knowledgable VOP lawyer, that lawyer will give you precise advice as to what to do and what to say (or what not to say) to help increase your chance of a lenient sentence.Why Choose Attorney Daniel Hilf For an Oakland County Probation Violation?
- Highly respected by Judges and prosecutors in Waterford and Oakland County for criminal matters;
- Highly rated, award winning legal advocacy provided for VOP clients;
- Able to provide solid advice and great recommendations as to the best way to go forward;
- Payment plans and credit card payments are accepted in many instances, if you request the same;
- Returns all telephone calls, email messages, and texts to keep you informed about any case developments;
Do not hire a lawyer who cannot provide you with a clear course of action, or who does not take time to answer your questions or to plan your defense. Having a top quality VOP lawyer means everything when it comes to your stressful VOP situation. When you need an outstanding VOP lawyer in Oakland County, contact us immediately for help.