The Initial Surrender Hearing
There are two hearings involved when a person is accused of violating the terms of their probation. The first hearing is called a surrender hearing. After the probation officer files what is called a “Notice of Surrender,” a judge will issue a warrant for your arrest or send a summons to you. If you do not appear before the court as instructed by the summons, a warrant will immediately be issued for your arrest.
At the surrender hearing your probation officer will summarize the alleged violations to the judge, who will determine whether there is probable cause to believe that you did indeed violate a term of your probation. The Commonwealth does not have to prove that you did what you are being accused of. The probation officer simply has to convince a judge that there is probable cause to believe that you committed the alleged violation.
One important issue to be resolved at this initial surrender hearing is whether you will be held in jail without bail until the next hearing, which is called a final surrender hearing. If your probation officer recommends that you be held, and if the judge finds you to be a danger to society or to yourself, you could be taken in custody at the end of your initial surrender hearing.
The Final Surrender Hearing
The second hearing is the final surrender hearing. Your probation officer will likely be prepared to call witnesses to testify against you. Your attorney will have an opportunity to cross-examine those witnesses, and he or she may call witnesses on your behalf as well. It is important to have a skilled lawyer who has experience in criminal matters and cross-examining witnesses in court.
If there is evidence that you did indeed violate a term of your probation, the focus may instead shift to punishment rather than the violation. Remember that unlike in a trial, the Commonwealth does not need to prove that you did anything beyond a reasonable doubt at the final surrender hearing. It only has to prove that you probably violated a term of your probation.
There are many ways to successfully defend against these claims. Sometimes an attorney can negotiate with the probation officer and get the officer to withdraw the notice of surrender entirely. Other times, a skilled trial attorney can prove, through cross-examination and argument, that the new arrest was without probable cause and should not be counted as a violation. On the other hand, it may be best to admit to the violation, but to argue for leniency in sentencing.
An experienced lawyer can make all the difference in defending against probation violations. The probation violation lawyers at KJC Law Firm in Worcester and Boston have more than 125 years of experience representing their clients in court and negotiating favorable resolutions of their cases. We regularly defend clients accused of violating their probation. We have the resources to get you the justice that you deserve. KJC Law Firm represents people accused of crimes from communities across Massachusetts, including the Greater Boston area, Cambridge, MetroWest, Cape Cod, Worcester, Springfield, Fall River and Lowell. Call a KJC Law Firm probation violation lawyer today to schedule a free consultation.