If you are convicted of a crime in Connecticut and you have a previously clean record or the offense you committed was a misdemeanor, you will likely be placed on probation. Probation is a court-ordered sanction that allows offenders to avoid jail and remain in their communities, and the only time that it is not an option for judges is when the offender is convicted of committing a Class A felony.
Probation is a Privilege, Not a Right
Probation is a privilege rather than a right, which means that judges can decide not to order it. However, judges will generally order probation when it is appropriate as the primary goal of the criminal justice system is to rehabilitate rather than punish.
If you are placed on probation, you will be required to meet with your probation officer on a regular basis. You may also be ordered to attend substance abuse counseling, take regular drug tests, maintain gainful employment, make restitution to your victims or perform community service. You will also be expected to obey the law and commit no further crimes. If you fail to meet any of these conditions, your probation could be revoked and you could be sent to jail.
Revocation of Probation in Connecticut
If you violate the terms of your probation, your liberty will be in jeopardy. This means that the revocation proceedings must meet the due process requirements of the U.S. Constitution. You will be provided with a written notice of the alleged violation, the evidence against you must be disclosed to you, and you will be given an opportunity to present evidence and confront the witnesses against you.
While a probation revocation hearing may sound very much like a criminal trial, there is a key difference. During trials, prosecutors must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Probation revocation hearings are decided based on the preponderance of the evidence, which is the standard of proof in civil cases. This means that the prosecuting authority must only convince the judge that you more likely than not violated the conditions of your probation.
The revocation process usually begins when a probation officer reports a violation to law enforcement. Police officers are then dispatched to take the offender into custody and an arraignment hearing is scheduled. Depending on the nature of the violation, the judge may set bond, incarcerate the offender or modify the conditions of their probation.
However, judges are unlikely to send an offender to jail unless they committed another crime while on probation. After the arraignment hearing has concluded, a revocation hearing will be scheduled. In Connecticut, this hearing must take place no more than 120 days after the arraignment hearing unless the prosecuting authority can establish good reasons for a longer delay.
Probation revocation hearings have two distinct phases. During the first phase, the court determines whether or not the offender actually violated the conditions of their probation. Once the evidentiary phase has been completed, the judge decides what sanctions should be applied and whether or not the offender’s probation should be revoked.
If you are accused of violating the conditions of your probation, you will have the same rights in your revocation hearing as you would have in a trial. This means that you will be able to retain an attorney to advocate on your behalf.
Your attorney can question any witnesses the prosecuting authority calls and challenge the validity of any evidence they introduce. However, the rules of evidence are not as strict in probation revocation agreements as they are in a criminal trial. Hearsay evidence is considered too unreliable to be admitted in a criminal trial, but it may be allowed in a probation revocation hearing if the judge deems it pertinent and probative.
Committing a Subsequent Crime
Probation officers often begin the revocation process when offenders are accused of committing crimes while they are on probation. If you find yourself in this position, your probation could be revoked even if you are acquitted of the subsequent crime you are accused of committing.
This is because the standard of proof is not nearly as strict in revocation hearings and the judge may determine that you committed the offense even if the prosecutor involved was not able to establish guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
Penalties for Violating Probation in Connecticut
Judges who determine that an offender violated the conditions of their probation have a number of options available to them. If they decide not to revoke probation, they can order that the probation continue as it was or they can add conditions or extend the period of time that the offender will be subject to supervision.
If the judge determines that probation should be revoked, the offender will be remanded to custody. They could be ordered to serve the sentence for the crime they originally committed, or the judge could decide to hand down a lesser sentence.
When making these decisions, judges consider the safety of the public, the nature of the original crime and the details of the probation violation. This means that you could be sent to jail for a lengthy period for violating the conditions of your probation even if the violation was not particularly serious.
The Importance of Professional Legal Counsel
If you are accused of a probation violation in Connecticut, you may be wise to retain an experienced criminal defense attorney to represent you during your arraignment and revocation hearings. The Moynahan Law Firm has decades of criminal law experience, and you can send us a message online or contact us by phone at (203) 597-6364 to arrange a no obligation case evaluation.