In the state of Colorado, if you have been convicted of a crime and then charged with violating your probation, an experienced Denver drug crimes attorney can help.

What constitutes a violation of probation in this state? And what can happen to someone who is convicted of a probation violation?

EXACTLY WHAT IS PROBATION IN COLORADO?

Probation is a criminal sentence that keeps the convicted offender from going to jail or prison. Probationers are allowed to live and work or attend school in their communities – provided that they adhere to the terms and conditions of their probation.

Probation in the state of Colorado lasts from one to five years, but violations of probation can result in a variety of additional criminal penalties including incarceration or a lengthier term of probation.

If a probation officer reports a violation of probation to the court, the judge may issue an arrest warrant for the probationer.

WHAT ARE THE MOST COMMON VIOLATIONS OF PROBATION?

Listed here are the basic and usual conditions and terms of probation in Colorado. Probationers in this state must:

1. seek and maintain a job or be enrolled in school
2. submit to unwarranted, unannounced searches and drug tests
3. avoid any criminal acquaintances or associates
4. report routinely to probation officers
5. comply with the law and avoid a new arrest or charge

CAN A PROBATION VIOLATION CHARGE BE DISMISSED?

How a Colorado defense attorney handles a probation violation case will be determined predominantly by the details of the alleged violation itself.

In some cases, a defense lawyer may be able to persuade a judge that a probationer did not violate the terms of probation, and when that happens, no probation revocation hearing may be required – but this is relatively rare.

In the majority of cases, an alleged violation of probation in Colorado will be dealt with at a formal probation revocation hearing.

WHAT ARE YOUR RIGHTS AT A PROBATION REVOCATION HEARING?

If you are on probation, it is important to understand that because you have already been convicted of a crime, you do not have the same legal rights at a probation revocation hearing that defendants have in any other criminal proceeding.

For example, an alleged violation of probation does not have to be proven “beyond a reasonable doubt.” To convict you of violating your probation, a prosecutor only has to prove that a “preponderance of the evidence” points to your guilt.

There is also no right to a trial by a jury of your peers at a probation revocation hearing. A judge alone will conduct the hearing and determine a probationer’s guilt or innocence.

That’s why it is critical for you to be represented at a Colorado probation revocation hearing by a skilled and knowledgeable defense lawyer.

HOW DOES A PROBATION REVOCATION HEARING WORK?

At a probation revocation hearing, both the prosecution and the defense will present arguments and evidence. Witnesses may be questioned and cross-examined.

In some cases, the prosecutor will ask the court to revoke probation and take the probationer into custody.

But a skilled defense attorney will tell your side of the story and will explain what happened in a way that puts you in the best possible light.

Finally, the judge will review the testimony and evidence and hand down a verdict based on the preponderance of the evidence.

WHAT PENALTIES ARE POSSIBLE FOR A PROBATION VIOLATION?

When a judge determines that a probationer is guilty of violating probation, a number of sentencing options are available. The aim of probation is rehabilitation, so jail or prison is ordered for only the most egregious violations of probation.

If a judge determines that probation has been violated, the sentencing options can include:

1. additional conditions and terms for the probation
2. additional time serving probation
3. community service, fines, and/or house arrest
4. revocation of probation
5. jail or prison time

Most judges would prefer to keep an offender on probation even if the offender has violated probation. Probation allows convicted offenders to hold a job or pursue an education, perform community service, pay restitution, and take advantage of counseling or treatment resources.

HOW CAN A DEFENSE LAWYER HELP?

If a probation violation involves a failure to pay restitution, fines, child support, or some other payment ordered by the court, your lawyer may be able to negotiate a payment plan or may arrange for you to work off the debt through community service.

Some probationers will be drug-tested frequently, but there are a number of reasons why a false positive result could be returned. If a probationer fails a drug test, a defense attorney will determine if the testing equipment was faulty or if the test was conducted improperly.

If the violation is a failure to meet with the probation officer, the probationer will need to prove that the failure was for a reason that genuinely could not be avoided – like hospitalization.

Committing a new crime is generally considered the most serious probation violation.

WHY IS AN ATTORNEY’S HELP SO IMPERATIVE?

A number of factors come into play when a probationer in this state is charged with committing a new crime. A criminal defense attorney can help you if you are charged with a crime while you are on probation for another crime.

At a probation revocation hearing in Colorado, the probation officer and the prosecutor will usually be in agreement, and they can present the judge with a powerful case against you.

Unless a skilled defense lawyer is advocating on your behalf, you will have little hope of persuading a judge that you are not guilty of violating your probation.

WHAT IS IMPORTANT TO REMEMBER ABOUT PROBATION?

If you are charged with any crime in the state of Colorado, get the legal help you need – immediately. That is your right.

A good defense attorney will safeguard your rights and develop a legal strategy to bring your case to its best possible conclusion.

But if the case against you is compelling, and you are convicted of a crime in Colorado, you should understand that if you are allowed to serve probation, you are fortunate.

If you are sentenced to probation, adhere to the conditions and terms. Take it seriously. The state of Colorado does.

In fact, you should take advantage of probation – if that is your sentence – and avoid any additional legal trouble by complying strictly with the conditions and terms of your probation.

By: Dan Murphy

Denver criminal defense lawyer Daniel M. Murphy provides clients in the Denver area with aggressive and sympathetic legal representation. He graduated from the University of Denver Law School in 1994 and worked as a public defender before starting his own practice in 1996. He has defended clients accused of the most difficult criminal and alcohol-related charges. He also serves as a Moot Court Judge for Denver-area law students who rely on his mentorship.