What Punishment Can I Face for Violating My Probation?

Though probation may keep you out of jail, it does not mean you are escaping punishment. In some ways, probation can be more difficult than jail because you are responsible for adhering to a strict set of rules and avoiding situations and temptations that are readily available. What punishment can you face for violating your probation? Here is a quick overview of probation in North Carolina and the consequences of violating the rules.

Supervised Probation and Unsupervised Probation

There are two types of probation in North Carolina: supervised and unsupervised. For supervised probation, a probation officer is assigned to monitor your activity to ensure you comply with the terms of your probation. Supervised probation is the strictest form of probation, requiring court permission to travel out of state, submitting to warrantless searches and drug tests, community service, and probation-related fees.

Unsupervised probation operates under the honor system. There is no probation officer to report to or monitor your compliance. Instead, you are simply expected to refrain from any illegal activity and pay applicable restitution or court fees. 

What is a probation violation?

Probation comes with a set of rules, ranging from the broad expectation to show up to court hearings and refrain from breaking any laws to more specific requirements such as completing community service or avoiding certain people or places. Engaging in an activity you are not supposed to, known as substantive violations, or failing to satisfy a condition of your probation, a technical violation, is considered a probation violation. Generally, a new conviction is considered a substantive violation; however, a conviction for a class three misdemeanor or simple infraction is only technical violations. The severity of the related punishment is impacted by the category of the probation violation.

Common probation violations include:

  • Missed court hearings or appointments with your probation officer 
  • Not paying related fines or restitution 
  • Incomplete community service requirements
  • Loss of employment
  • Engaging in criminal activity
  • Absconding (or evading) probation supervision

What is the punishment for violating my probation?

A probation violation can result in arrest. Generally, there will be a subsequent hearing before a judge to determine whether you violated your probation and if so, what consequences are appropriate. If you violate your probation, the judge can impose stricter rules for your probation, extend the duration of your probation, sentence you to a few days in jail before returning to probation, or you can lose the opportunity for probation completely and be sentenced to serve the remainder of your punishment behind bars. 

If you are suspected of violating the terms of your probation, you must have an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side. Ultimately, the decision of whether to revoke or otherwise alter your probation is up to the judge, but a defense attorney can plead your case and advocate for the least restrictive probation requirements so that you can have the best chance for completing your probation as quickly as possible.