Can I Go To Jail If I Violate My Probation in Illinois?

Violation-of-ProbationWhenever I get a phone call from someone who is facing a Violation of Probation, the most common question I get is whether they will go to jail for their Violation of Probation? This is another impossible question to answer. While everybody wants an answer to their question, some questions are just too difficult to easily answer. This is perhaps one of the most difficult question to answer. Let me explain why.

Let’s talk about what probation is. Probation is one of many possible sentences that you can receive when you are found guilty of a crime. There’s two ways you can be found guilty of a crime. The first is if you go to trial and the Judge or Jury finds you guilty. The second way that you could be guilty of a crime is if you plead guilty and are sentenced by the judge for the crime that you pled guilty to. Probation is a sentence which allows you to be free and living in the community subject to certain conditions and certain requirements. Probation is for a certain period of time, and you will be supervised by a Probation Officer whose job is to make sure that you follow the rules and to notify the court if you did something you are not supposed to do, or didn’t do something that you were supposed to do. The rules vary from case to case. Most people that are sentenced to Probation are required to follow the following rules:

-Report monthly to the Probation Officer. (In person or over the phone)
-Not use illegal drugs.
-Follow the law. Do not commit any crimes.
-Community Service.
-Weapons restrictions.
-Attend all mandated counselling.
-Pay all fines, fees and court costs.
-Appear for every scheduled court date.

The Probation terms are not the same for every case. The terms of Probation will vary from case to case. For instance, if you have a substance abuse problem you may be required to get a drug and alcohol evaluation and follow all treatment recommendations. If you have a mental health issue you may be required to get a mental health evaluation and follow all treatment recommendations. If you are a student, you may be required to attend school regularly and graduate, or you may be required to obtain your GED if you dropped out of school. While the main goal behind sentencing someone in a criminal case it’s supposed to be rehabilitation. Probation is more about rehabilitation than a prison sentence is.

If you follow the rules and do what you are supposed to do, at the end of your Probation period you will be terminated from Probation and your criminal record will show that you successfully completed your Probation. But if at any time during your period of Probation you do something you are not supposed to do, or fail to do something that you were supposed to do, the Probation Officer will file a Notice of Violation of Probation with the Clerk of the Court and will summon you to appear in Court. The Notice of Violation of Probation will set forth the reasons why the Probation Officer believes that you Violated your Probation and will notify you to appear in Court at a specific date and time. The Violation of Probation will be mailed to your last known address. Therefore, it is important that you update any address with the Probation Department. If you do not appear in court for a Notice of Violation of Probation, you cannot claim that you did not receive notice of the court date because you had moved and had failed to notify the Probation Office of your new address.  If you do not appear in Court for your Violation of Probation, the judge will issue a warrant for your arrest.

At the first Court date for your Probation Violation, the Judge will consider setting a Bond. The Bond may be nothing or it may be a substantial amount of money. What happens with the Bond varies from case to case, depending on why you were on Probation to begin with and the reasons behind the Violation of Probation being filed against you. I have found that one of the biggest factors behind what happens at that first court appearance for a Probation Violation depends on whether this is your first time violating your Probation or whether you have previously violated your Probation. Obviously, you will probably be treated better by the Court if it’s your first violation as opposed to whether you have violated your Probation previously.

After the court addresses the bond issue, your case will be continued for you to either be given an opportunity to get back on track with your Probation, or your case will be continued for a hearing for the Judge to determine whether you Violated your Probation. A Violation of Probation hearing is not the same as a trial in a criminal case. There are relaxed Rules of Evidence at a Probation Violation hearing, you are not entitled to a jury, and the Judge merely needs to be convinced by a preponderance of the evidence, more probably true than not true, that you violated your Probation. If the Judge finds that you violated your Probation, the Judge has great discretion and latitude in deciding what the consequences will be. The Judge can continue your probation, or the Judge can sentence you to anything that he could have sentenced you to when you pled guilty to the crime. For instance, if you plead guilty to a class 4 felony which carries a 1 to 3 year prison sentence and received probation, the Judge can sentence you to anywhere between one to three years in prison.

I always advise clients to make sure that they hire an attorney that is that is experienced with handling Violation of Probation matters. For a lawyer to be able to successfully handle a Violation of Probation matter that lawyer must know how to talk to Judges, Prosecutors and Probation Officers, so as to try to get their client back on track with their Probation. You need to find a lawyer that knows how to handle a delicate matter like this so that they can get their client back into Probation instead of heading to jail.

Violation of Probation lawyer, James Dimeas, has been handling Violation of Probation cases for 25 years throughout Cook County, DuPage County, Lake County, and Kane County.  Violation of Probation attorney, James Dimeas, is an award-winning criminal defense lawyer.  Expertise named James Dimeas a “Best Criminal Defense Lawyer in Chicago.”  James Dimeas has been named recognized as a “Best DUI Attorney.”  The National Trial Lawyers have named James Dimeas a “Top 100 Criminal Defense Trial Lawyer.”  The American Institute of Criminal Law Attorneys have named James Dimeas a “10 Best Attorney for Client Satisfaction.”  If you are facing a Violation of Probation case, contact James Dimeas for a free and confidential consultation. You can always speak to Mr. Dimeas at 847-807-7405.  James Dimeas can help you avoid jail for your Violation of Probation.

Additional Blogs:

What Can Happen if I Violate My Probation?  By: James G. Dimeas, April 11, 2017.

The Kane County Deferred Prosecution Program – Avoid a Conviction – Keep Your Record Clean. By: James G. Dimeas, March 28, 2017.