By: William C. Head and Larry Kohn, Criminal Defense Lawyers Near Me
What Is Probation?
In the State of Georgia, once a criminal case is resolved by a negotiated plea or by a verdict at trial, and the judge in the criminal court sentences the offender, the presiding judge decides on the appropriate jail or prison time. Depending upon the statutory mandatory minimum jail time, most judicial sentences for criminal charges DO have some time in jail. Beyond any jail time imposed, the court’s sentence includes time that the offender will have to serve on probation, in addition to the GA jail sentence.
This article, written by two best lawyers in Atlanta, discusses what occurs after a violation of probation rules is discovered by law enforcement, and the probation department worker seeks a bench warrant for arrest of the probationer. He or she will contact the judge and swear out an affidavit to the known facts of some transgression (i.e., failing a probation drug test or alcohol ETG test) that will prove that our client has violated probation. This affidavit is enough to compel the Judge to issue an arrest warrant, due to a violation of probation rules.
Probation is a term of months or years of court supervision over a convicted criminal law violator. Since a judge can send the person to jail or prison, a probated sentence can be considered the suspension (lifting) of all or part of that potential prison or jail sentence, so that the convicted violator conditionally can go back to his or her community and family instead of languishing in detention.
The probated part of a sentence in GA occurs after the release of an offender from any court-ordered incarceration time. Being allowed to NOT be in custody is conditioned upon that convicted citizen agreeing to be under supervision of a state or private contractor probation officer, while performing certain conditions of the sentence, which include periodic reporting to the probation officer. In short, a good description of probation meaning is that your criminal defense lawyer Atlanta GA did an excellent job in keeping you from wasting your life behind bars.
Typical conditions of probation may include finishing a diploma or getting a GED, staying employed, supporting his or her family, paying fines, performing community service, and possible being screened for alcohol or drug dependency through urine, hair follicle or other testing. Plus, for many probationers, staying in a treatment or aftercare program will be court-ordered. For some offenders involved with serious felonies, a GPS tracking device or transdermal alcohol monitor may be mandated by the Court that permitted that person being released on probation.
With misdemeanor probation, the rules of compliance are usually more relaxed than with felony probation, except in a DUI Court or a Drug Court, where intensive probation or “supervised probation” are implemented. Based on numerous criminal justice reforms in Georgia that were implemented during Governor Nathan Deal’s administration, a wide array of accountability Courts are now established and operating across the State of Georgia.
Georgia Probation Management for Felony Offenders
In Georgia, felony probation is overseen by a privatized probation agency named “Georgia Probation Management.” The GPM website for the Cumming, GA-based organization is as barebones as possible, being nothing more than a payment portal and drug screening. The State of Georgia operates the Georgia Department of Community Supervision, of DCS, for felony probation.
Various supervisory personnel oversee clerks and probation officers who are assigned different territories for felony probationers in the State of GA. Local probation supervisors within a county will be the direct contact, but GPM coordinates such issues as seeing to it that a person transferring to Georgia from another state is “picked up” and monitored in accordance with the conditions of probation.
The self-lauding snippet about the organization, written by the company, is as follows:
Georgia Probation Management (GPM) is committed to enhancing public safety by providing the highest quality professional supervision services to our Courts, law enforcement, local governments and communities.
How to Clear Up a Warrant Without Going to Jail
Legal trouble involving probation is like a giant sore on your body. If you don’t carefully watch what you are doing, and keep antibiotic on the area to prevent infection, the sore will get worse, and other measures to correct the medical problem must be utilized, including amputation.
Not paying attention to your probation conditions, and following all the rules, your probation is like that sore. The Court system rewards those who DO THE RIGHT THING but punishes those who don’t follow the guidelines.
These three steps should be implemented, if a “problem” has arisen.
- First, talk to the probation officer, preferably in person. See if you can satisfy him or her that you WILL “come into compliance” by a fixed deadline, and then do it. If this is done by a phone call, record the conversation or do it via speakerphone with a witness present.
- If documentation is missing (e.g., the community service hours), then get the paperwork done, keep a copy, and always write down the name, time, place and date of delivery to the person who received it.
- Call a criminal lawyer Atlanta, if things are moving toward a violation. Getting professional representation may be able to help clear up the unresolved issues. Whatever this cost may be, it will be less than if a jail visit has to be included in the legal services.
Misdemeanor Probation in Georgia Is in Transition
Most probationers in the State of Georgia are in misdemeanor, not felony, probation. About 15 years ago, the Georgia Legislature announced that it wanted to SAVE MONEY by privatizing many government services, like probation management. The concept was to let private providers bid for the annual contract, and thereby do away with State retirement for thousands of workers and let private enterprise run it.
Many Georgia judges, and members of the news media have complained about this cost-cutting measure, saying that graft, overcharging of fees and lax oversight of probationers was rampant. Gov. Deal’s criminal justice reform agenda has recently targeted cleaning up these private providers. In the LINKS at the bottom of this article are the busiest six (6) metro Atlanta misdemeanor courts that process the bulk of five counties and the Municipal Court of Atlanta.
Special Defense Techniques and Strategies
Alternatively, in some jurisdictions, the criminal justice attorney (who is defending the person charged with violating probation) can go directly to the District Attorney or Solicitor-General, before any hearing. The objective is to seek to negotiate (between defense attorney and prosecutor) a consent order about resolving the disputed issues, for presentation of a structured agreement to the Judge.
In past situations, for some counties or municipal courts, an Atlanta criminal defense attorney from our criminal law firm, has been able to secure an order for immediate release of the client from jail, using this strategy. So, when a probation violation arrest has occurred, or where arrest is imminent, such emergencies require a criminal justice lawyer to drop or reschedule other criminal defense matters, to address this emergency for an incarcerated client.
How and Why to Hire a Lawyer for Probation Violation
Once the VOP (violation of probation) occurs, either the probationer or his or her family seek legal advice on how to clear a warrant without going to jail, and then they hire a lawyer in GA to take immediate action. You will find that not all criminal defense lawyers near me accept either a misdemeanor probation violation or violation of probation felony case.
A completely different set of criminal law skills must be utilized by a criminal attorney seeking to resolve a probation violation problem, since no trial remains to decide guilt and innocence. Experienced criminal lawyers refer to revocations as requiring “kneepad law,” since very little leverage exists to exact a “win” through litigation, since the case is in a post-conviction status.
Our law office’s long-term reputation for aggressive criminal defense, and personal relationships developed from decades of similar criminal law matters may enable us to be able to attack the probation violation case in such a fashion.
Typical Conditions of Probation and the 4th Amendment Waiver
Depending upon the crime (misdemeanor or felony), the conditions of probation in Georgia can be quite extensive, invasive and time-consuming. Moreover, to receive probation, the probationer typically must sign a 4th Amendment waiver, through which he or she agrees to allow police (while probation is in place) to conduct a warrantless search the person’s residence or come to the workplace or to conduct a full search when the probationer is in any motor vehicle.
So, for the person under a probated sentence, he or she is without the usual Fourth Amendment protections of regular citizens, who are protected by the US Constitution. The person from the probation department need not have reasonable suspicion (articulable suspicion) for the search, either. Plus, no legal necessity for a known crime being committed is needed, for law enforcement to get a judicial warrant.
After a Violation of Probation Warrant, What Happens?
If a person violates probation, an arrest usually occurs. Sometimes the person is at the probation office when the problem is discovered, but another common scenario is that a probationer will call in to report a new arrest or the probation officer has run a computer update and see that an unreported new violation has occurred. Other violations may have only been called to a court’s attention after repeated warnings to complete court-ordered conditions
If (after your lawyers in Atlanta have “cut a deal”) you are given the privilege of getting out of jail, going home and submitting to oversight by a probation department, such beneficial treatment takes place at the Judge’s discretion. The person “serving a sentence” on probation has agreed to perform certain rehabilitative steps, to not reoffend, and to not incur any new criminal charges, as the core conditions of being on a probated sentence.
Being on probation (for the person serving a sentence for a felony or misdemeanor) is a matter of “judicial grace,” and is subject to being taken away by the sentencing judge, for any probation violation. Various types of defaults or new crimes can lead to issuance of a probation warrant, and not only for new criminal law violations.
How to Get a Warrant Lifted, At or Before a “Show Cause” Hearing
Depending on the nature and type of the VOP, either an arrest warrant will be issued by the Judge, or (on the probation officer’s request) a hearing to “show cause” (why to NOT put you in jail or prison) will be scheduled to present facts relevant to why the probation violation warrant was issued. At this court date, the person serving on probation (or his or her criminal defense attorney) must then answer to the judge and explain extenuating circumstances as to how and why the probationer has not following all directives of the court’s probation order.
For “technical violations” (such as not making payments on time, or failure to meet a deadline for completing a rehabilitation course) the probation officer may simply notify the probationer of a court date for the VOP. A hearing date will be set, and the judge will decide how to deal with the technical default or failure to timely comply.
On more serious issues like skipping out, getting arrested, or the probation officer finding you in a place that the conditions of probation prohibit, the probation department official goes before the judge to get a probation violation warrant. This is how to clear up a warrant without going to jail, and you need a criminal law specialist to have your best chance for a favorable outcome.
Why Probation Revocations Are Usually Emergencies
Many hours of a criminal attorney’s legal time can be consumed, because the criminal defense lawyer from our Atlanta lawyer office will want to confer with the detained person and invoke attorney-client privilege (usually at the jail). Larry Kohn, Cory Yager and William Head, criminal lawyers Georgia, have made many jail trips to confer with clients facing probation violations.
Only then can our Atlanta attorneys come up with a plan of attack, for the revocation of probation. Call one of our criminal defense attorneys, 24 hours a day, at 404-567-5515, for IMMEDIATE FREE legal advice, on a probation violation. The initial lawyer consultation is FREE, so why not take advantage of this no-cost offer? Plus, we work EVERY weekend and holiday, and answer calls around the clock.
OUR LAWYERS WORK WEEKENDS AND HOLIDAYS
Our 4 busiest JURY TRIAL COURTS are:
It is important to note that the detained offender (once in custody) cannot just post bail and get out of jail, absent consent of the judge. This “jail release” issue can only be resolved, typically, after a full revocation hearing, which can be scheduled a week or more in the future. Don’t trust this important legal issue for law firms near me, unless you check lawyer ratings and credentials to assure that the Atlanta attorneys are from the most experienced and respected law office.
Atlanta Municipal Court (Traffic Court) has no website for the Probation Department, but is located at Address: 260 Central Ave SW, Atlanta, GA 30303 Phone: (404) 658-6983
MAIN LAW OFFICE IN SANDY SPRINGS, GEORGIA:
5590 Roswell Road
Sandy Springs, GA 30342
DOWNTOWN ATLANTA GA LOCATION:
235 Peachtree Street NE
Atlanta, GA 30303
MARIETTA, COBB COUNTY LOCATION:
109 Anderson Street
Marietta, GA 30060
ALPHARETTA-ROSWELL-MILTON LOCATION in North Fulton County, GA:
1001 Cambridge Square
Alpharetta, GA 30009