Accused of a Parole / Probation Violation - Pittsburgh Criminal Lawyers

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I’ve Been Accused of a Pittsburgh Parole or Probation Violation. Now What?

When you are on probation or parole, your life is constantly being strictly monitored for any violation of the terms of your release from jail. You must follow all the rules imposed by your parole or probation officer, and sometimes even the smallest infraction can send you into prison if you are not careful.

Often you will have stricter rules than a normal citizen. You need to be very aware of all special conditions that apply to you and check in with your parole or probation officer as often as required. The most common violations of probation and parole are:

  • Being arrested for another crime,
  • Using drugs or alcohol,
  • Not reporting as required,
  • Failing to remain gainfully employed,
  • Not paying fines, restitution, or other court costs, and
  • Making other technical violations.

Still, with all of these restrictions, it can be easy to accidentally violate one of the rules. That is why it is so important to know that happens if you are accused of any violation.

Parole infractions versus probation infractions

Although the expectations of a person on probation and a parolee are very similar, the consequences for violating either court order are very different. A person who is paroled has been released early from prison based on good behavior. A person on probation has been sentenced to no time in prison, but they are under strict monitoring for a certain period of time. If violated, probation can result in incarceration.

Technically, when you are paroled, you still are serving out the time you owe for the crime for which you were held guilty. If you are determined to have violated parole, you can be sentenced only up to the maximum amount of time originally on your sentence. For example, if you were sentenced to two years and get out after 12 months, you can be sent back into jail for another 12 months. Remember, though, the time you are on parole is not counted in the total time. Only the time you spent in jail matters.

If you are accused of a Pittsburgh probation infraction, the judge can restart your probation term entirely. This means that if you violate the terms of your probation in the last month of a 24-month probation term, the judge may sentence another 24 months, even though you had already served 23 months probation.

Gagnon hearings

After you are accused of violating either parole or probation, you will go to two hearings known as “Gagnon hearings.” At these two hearings, the judge rule on whether or not a violation occurred and determine appropriate punishments.

The Gagnon I hearing, or the pre-revocation hearing, is an informal hearing in front of a hearing officer in the adult probation and parole office. Your probation or parole officer will present evidence on the alleged infraction, and the hearing officer will determine if there is probable cause that an infraction did indeed occur. This requires a very low burden of proof, and usually will be satisfied.

You will then have a Gagnon II hearing. This is a formal hearing in front of a Court of Common Pleas Judge, who will ultimately decide on your infraction. Since this is not a criminal trial, it does not have to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, but the burden of proof is higher than in a Gagnon I hearing.

If you are found guilty of an infraction, the judge will determine your consequences. The judge will consider all factors in your situation, revoke your probation or parole, and re-sentence you at the court’s discretion to additional probation, parole or jail time. Usually, the court will follow the recommendations of your probation or parole officer.

It is important during these hearings to have someone sticking up for your case. It is easy to think of these hearings as unimportant, but they can end in you serving more real jail time. An attorney will be able to work with the ADA and the probation and parole office to work out the best outcome and try to keep you out of prison. If you have been accused of violating your parole or probation, contact us at Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC today at (412) 281-2146. Our Pittsburgh criminal lawyers will provide a free consultation on your case to determine how we can best help you.