Under Michigan law, probation is regarded as a privilege, not a right, and in theory, probation can be revoked for any reason or no reason at all. As a practical matter, however, the risk of imprisonment on a suspended sentence will usually only come up when the probationer is charged with a violation of a condition of probation, or is arrested for a new offense. If you find yourself in either situation, contact a criminal defense lawyer at State Street Law for a free consultation about your legal options and to minimize the possibility of prison.
Alleged probation violations such as a failed drug or alcohol test, a missed appointment with a probation officer, noncompletion of a court-ordered treatment or counseling program, or association with a known criminal can all result in a notice of revocation hearing, where the court will determine whether the violation occurred as charged. Unlike criminal proceedings, a probation revocation hearing is conducted without a jury and the prosecution need not prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Instead, revocation of probation can be based on the judge's finding of a violation by a preponderance of the evidence, which simply means that it is more likely than not that the violation of probation occurred.
In cases alleging probation violations such as those outlined above, we can work with the prosecutor to make sure that your side of the story is clearly presented before the matter goes to a hearing. Our objective is to convince the prosecutor that the violation is not serious enough to justify committing our client to prison. Our familiarity with the policies and practices in many different Michigan counties gives our clients a significant advantage--we can negotiate with the prosecutor from a position of strength based on our knowledge of which violations are taken most seriously in a given locality.
When our client on probation is arrested on a new offense, however, most Michigan counties take a hard position on the matter. The probationer is exposed both to the risk of receiving the maximum sentence possible on the prior offense, while receiving a consecutive sentence if convicted on the new offense. Our intensive investigation of the circumstances of the new charge together with our client's overall background and performance is intended to first, obtain a dismissal or acquittal of the new charges, and next, do everything possible to make sure that any new sentence runs concurrently instead of consecutively with the older suspended sentence. Our skill with the presentation of mitigating circumstances at the sentencing phase of criminal cases can help you avoid the worst consequences of a conviction of a new offense while on probation.
At the State Street Law, we perform similar client service for persons who have been released from prison on terms of parole. The main difference between parole and probation revocation proceedings is that parole cases are charged and heard before the Michigan Department of Corrections. For a free consultation about the range of our experience in both probation and parole violation cases, contact our office in Ann Arbor.