Under Arkansas law, you can be sentenced to probation to avoid going to jail. If you are on probation, you want to make sure that you do everything you can to avoid a probation revocation. As you probably know, your probation can be revoked for many reasons, including failing drug tests, missing appointments with your probation officer, failure to complete treatment programs, or picking up a new criminal charge.
Staying Out of Prison When You Are Revocated
Arkansas passed a new law (Act 423) that lists many violations that may keep you out of prison (ADC), limit jail time for probation and parole violations or allow entry to a Technical Violator Program. The state wants to reduce the number of people sent to prison (an Arkansas Department of Corrections penitentiary).
- If you commit technical violations you are eligible for administrative sanctions and do not have to go to prison.
- Not all prosecutors, judges or probation officers are aware of the administrative sanctions.
- Not all prosecutors, judges or probation officers use them when available or when they are the best option!
You need a defense lawyer that understands Arkansas’s new options to keep you out of prison or serving long jail sentences when you face revocation.
How Do Technical Violations Prevent Revocation and Prison
You can get sanctions for violations of probation or parole supervision if your charge is one listed in the new guide.
- Sanctions are served at a Technical Violator Program or county jail
- Minor violations can be up to 90 day
- Serious violations can be up to 180 days
- This time counts towards your overall sentence.
- Your time can be cut in half for good time
How Many Times Can I Avoid Prison?
- You can receive up to six sanctions to county jail or a residential facility before a full revocation requires ADC prison time.
- After two violations you can be eligible for full revocation.
When a Revocation or Revo is Started How Do I Know If Sanctions Are Available?
- If your probation officer understands the new rules, they should consider them before a revocation hearing is set.
- Once your probation officer decides to pursue a revocation, he or she will file a Petition for Revocation with the court. At that point, the court must hold a hearing on the petition for revocation within 60 days.
There are a few things you need to know about this hearing:
- The court will tend to side with the probation officer.
- The State does not need to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Instead, the standard in a probation revocation is a “preponderance of the evidence,” which is much easier to meet.
- You can be represented by an attorney at your probation revocation hearing.
You need a defense lawyer that understands when the new technical sanctions are available, when the revocation hearing can be avoided, and how to avoid a revocation at your hearing. Your lawyer must be able to explain the new, technical violations to the judge, prosecutor and parole/probation officer.
During a recent revocation hearing, one of our defense attorneys had to explain
- That the new rules exist.
- That they were REQUIRED to be followed based on the facts of the case.
A revocation was avoided, and a technical violation was issued. By hiring a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney, you might avoid going to prison or having a revocation on your record.
There are over 2,000 people who enter the Arkansas Department of Corrections each year because of a probation revocation. It is very important that you take it seriously or you may end up in jail, even for a little slip-up.
I Thought Arkansas Was Trying to Limit Prison Overcrowding?
The state of Arkansas wants to reduce the number of people going to prison by parole revocation. This does not mean your judge, prosecutor or probation/parole office is aware of alternatives or uses them.
Having an attorney to handle your probation revocation gives you a huge advantage. Our lawyers know when to explain that your charge should be treated with sanctions, NOT with a parole revocation hearing.
What if I Can’t Get the New Sanctions?
Your criminal defense lawyer will be able to cross-examine the probation officer. If the PO just has it out for you, the lawyer can make this very clear to the judge.
A criminal defense lawyer will also be able to bring in other evidence of how you are doing. For instance, if you missed an appointment with your PO because you were doing something else that is productive, the lawyer can also make sure the judge hears this. You may have factors that make you look better to the judge and make your slip-up less of an issue.
A criminal defense lawyer also may be able to strike a deal with the prosecutor if your case doesn’t look good. As we all know, there are too many prisoners and not enough prisons. Ultimately, a prosecutor doesn’t really want to put someone behind bars who doesn’t belong there. A good lawyer will be much better able to negotiate and strike a bargain than you will. Maybe your charge can be amended to fit one of the new sanctions.
If you are facing a probation revocation and have questions, please contact us. It is a serious matter and you need to know exactly what you’re up against. You may be eligible for sanctions and the revocation can’t move forward. If the sanctions aren’t an option and you are getting a revo, you need an attorney that understands ALL of your options.
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