December 9, 2023
Probation programs provide an extremely valuable opportunity that may allow you to serve all or part of your sentence outside of prison.
However, Colorado probation programs have strict requirements, and any violations will not be tolerated. If you’re found to be in violation, you could even have your probation revoked, and be required to serve out the rest of your sentence behind bars.
If you’re hit with a probation violation, your freedom is at stake. It’s of utmost importance to act quickly and prudently.
Below, we’ve pulled together a list of common probation violations, how they are typically handled, and how you can defend yourself when you are found in violation.
Common Probation Violations in Colorado
Probation violations can take many forms. Any action or failure to act that is not in accordance with the terms of your probation is considered a violation. The most common examples of probation violations include:
- Committing a new offense
- Possessing a weapon
- Failure to report to your probation officer
- Testing positive for drugs or alcohol
- Failure to register as a sex offender
- Violating travel restrictions
- Failure to participate in required treatment programs
- Failure to submit required blood or urine specimens
- Failure to pay restitution or other fees
- Failure to complete community service
- Making false statements to your parole officer
- Associating with known felons or gangs
- Changing residence without notice or permission
- Failure to maintain employment
If you violate these or any other terms of your probation, your probation officer has wide discretion over what happens next.
Consequences of a Colorado Probation Violation
Depending on your relationship and whether or not you’ve built a rapport with your probation officer, there is a spectrum of potential consequences, including:
- A written warning
- Changes to the terms of your probation, including additional requirements or extension of the probationary period
- An arrest warrant and Court-based probation violation hearing
The officer will also consider the following factors when determining how to proceed:
- Your performance in probation to date
- Past violations during current or previous probationary periods
- Whether you represent a threat to public safety
- Your likelihood of successfully completing your probation program
If you’re lucky and it’s your first probation violation, you may get off with a warning. Don’t expect any additional favors. When you do find yourself facing greater consequences, it’s time to consider exploring professional legal assistance.
Defending Yourself Against Colorado Probation Violation Charges
If you’re hit with a probation violation, your freedom is in danger. If convicted, you could potentially have your probation revoked, and serve the rest of your sentence behind bars. Therefore, it is of utmost importance to address any violations promptly and correctly.
To defend against a probation violation, your attorney will negotiate how the violation is handled, and if necessary, develop a defense strategy to either prove your innocence or make a convincing argument that your violation does not hinder the success of your probation sentence completion.
How Probation Violations Are Handled
There are two ways a probation violation may be handled – either administratively (which you’d prefer) with your probation officer alone or by appearance before the court.
Your attorney’s goal will be to have the case handled administratively if at all possible. Your attorney will work to convince your probation officer that the violation is not severe enough to require court action and that an understanding can be reached with the probationer without going to trial.
If your violation is handled administratively and an agreement is reached, you will be able to continue in your probation program. So long as you avoid future violations, you’ll be all set.
That said, if your violation does go to court, all is not lost yet.
A probation violation is actually harder to defend than a criminal case. In a criminal case, the burden of proof is on the prosecution, who must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you committed the offense in question.
In a probation violation hearing, the prosecution only needs to show that a preponderance of the evidence is suggestive of your guilt.
Therefore, the best strategies against probation violations involve affirmative defenses. In other words, you admit you committed the violation in question, but there is a reasonable explanation.
You fail to pay court costs, fines and restitution named in the terms of your probation — this is a violation. Your attorney explains you are indigent, unable to pay these expenses, the court may give you an additional opportunity to pay and/or excuse the violation.
In cases where defendants are falsely accused of probation violations, the defendant’s attorney will craft a defense bringing the prosecution’s evidence into question and presenting any evidence suggestive of your innocence.
Because of the sheer number of possible probation terms and violations of them, the most effective course of action for each violation must be handled on a case-by-case basis.
An experienced Denver criminal defense attorney will know how to work with your probation officer and speak the right language to make sure that everyone is on the same page, potentially minimizing the consequences of a violation.
About the Author:
Denver-based criminal defense and DUI attorney Jacob E. Martinez is a knowledgeable and experienced litigator with a record of success providing innovative solutions to clients facing criminal charges of any severity. Mr. Martinez has been designated a Top 100 Trial Lawyer by the National Trial Lawyers and has been awarded both the Avvo Client’s Choice Award and Avvo Top Attorney designation, evidencing his reputation for his exemplary criminal and DUI defense work and high moral standards.