What happens if I violate my probation?

After your conviction, if a judge sentenced you to probation as part of your sentence, you may have felt relief. Probation means spending less time behind bars, or perhaps no time at all. You get to go home to a place that is familiar. There is no separation between you and your friends and loved ones. You have your freedom.

However, you are not off the hook. Probation is still a penalty for your conviction, and you likely have work to do. Perhaps you have community service to complete, counseling sessions to attend and drug testing to pass. You may also have to find meaningful work and make restitution. Above all, it is your responsibility to make sure you do not violate the terms of your probation.

What is a violation?

Violating your probation can result in serious consequences. Typically, probation lasts between one and three years, but your situation may be different. During that time, you are under the supervision of a Wisconsin probation officer with whom you will meet on a regular basis. It will likely be your probation officer who determines whether your actions violate the terms of your orders.

Not every probation order is the same, and yours may have specific stipulations. However, some common probation violations include the following:

  • Not showing up for your appointment with your probation officer
  • Missing a scheduled court appearance
  • Associating with people whom your probation order forbids you to contact
  • Traveling outside the geographic limits of your order
  • Failing to fulfill the terms of your probation, such as paying restitution or fines
  • Being in possession of a weapon
  • Using alcohol or illegal drugs

Of course, if police arrest you while you are on probation, the court typically considers this a violation.

Additional penalties

If the judge agrees with the probation officer that you are in violation of your orders, the court will determine whether to impose additional penalties. This may include any of the following or others, depending on the circumstances of your alleged violation:

  • Extending your probationary period
  • Adding new terms to your order
  • Sending you to jail
  • Revoking your probation

The judge will have much to consider when making a ruling. For example, you will certainly want the court to understand the circumstances surrounding the violation and any other factors that may justify your actions. You have the right to legal representation from the moment you receive notice of the alleged violation, and to present any evidence or witnesses who can support your case.