Facing a VOP in Trenton New Jersey
Probation, which is a form of a sentence in New Jersey, is typically giving to a Defendant in leu of imposing a term of incarceration. When a Defendant in turn violates probation, they must appear in court for what is known as Violation of Probation Hearing (VOP Hearing). This hearing typically takes place in front of the original judge that imposed the probation as opposed to incarcerating the Defendant. So, it should be no surprise to hear that judge’s tend to take these types if hearings very seriously. As you will see below, a Defendant can violate probation for a variety of different reasons and the penalties can range anywhere from being re-instated back on probation to being incarcerated.
Need a Lawyer for VOP in Trenton?
If you have been violated from probation in Mercer County and are scheduled to appear for a VOP hearing, we strongly urge that you speak to a criminal defense attorney prior to appearing. Understanding the potential repercussions and viable options is absolutely crucial to being successful at a VOP hearing. If you would like to speak to one of the Mercer County criminal defense attorneys at Keith Oliver Criminal Law, then please contact our Hamilton office at 609-789-0779. One of our lawyers will be glad to go over the specific facts of your case and formulate a game plan on how to defend the charges. Our office serves all of Mercer County, including Trenton, Ewing, Princeton, West Windsor, East Windsor, Robbinsville, Hightstown, Lawrenceville and Hopewell. Our initial consultations are free of costs, so if you have any questions whatsoever, please do not hesitate to contact us. Now here is some key information VOP hearings in Mercer County.
How Does Probation Work in NJ?
There are two ways in which a Defendant could be sentenced on a term of probation in New Jersey. The first is referred to as “straight probation”. This means that the Defendant was placed on probation without a custodial (jail) term being imposed. The second options is referred to as probation conditioned upon a county jail term, which can be up to 364 days. With both options, the judge will impose several standard conditions and has the option to impose additional special conditions as well. A violation of these conditions will could result in the Defendant’s probation officer filing what is known as a Violation of Probation complaint with the court. If that occurs, the Defendant will be forced to appear in court for their violation of probation hearing.
What Conditions Can a Judge Impose When Sentencing Someone to Probation?
As stated earlier, everyone sentenced to a term of probation will be forced to abide by various standard conditions. Here is a list of some of the most important ones and attached directly below is a detailed list of every condition.
- Do Not Get Arrested.
- Report to Probation Officer as Directed.
- Obtain Permission Probation Officer if Leaving State for More than 24 hour.
- Submit to Drug or Alcohol Testing When Requested.
- Pay Fines As Directed.
In addition to the standard conditions, the sentencing judge has the authority to impose whatever conditions them deem appropriate as well. Some of the typical special conditions that we see in Mercer County, include:
- Loss of License
- Anger Management
- Drug / Mental Health Evaluations
- Community Service
- No Victim Contact
What Happens at a VOP Hearing in NJ?
If a Violation of Probation complaint has been filed with the court then the Defendant will be scheduled for a formal VOP hearing. This hearing typically will be scheduled in front of the original sentencing judge. The Defendant will have a couple different options at this point in time.
- The Defendant can contest the charges and seek to have a formal hearing. This hearing is similar to a bench trial, whereby the Judge will be called upon as the trier of fact. During this hearing the State will be represented by the prosecution and typically the probation officer will be called upon to testify. The probation officer as well as any other witness will be subject to cross-examination. It is important to note here that the standard of proof is not beyond a reasonable doubt but a preponderance of the evidence, which is a much less standard of proof.
- The Defendant, through defense counsel, can seek to negotiate a potential sentence conditioned upon a guilty plea to the VOP.
What Happens if I Violate Probation in NJ?
If the Defendant is convicted or found guilty of a VOP, then the judge will have several different options when it comes time to sentencing. Those options include but are not limited to:
- Simply Continue the Defendant on probation.
- Extend the original term of probation but the total term cannot exceed five years.
- Impose new additional conditions, like drug counseling.
- Although rare, the Judge can remove previously imposed conditions.
- Terminate the Defendant’s probation unsuccessfully.
- Choose to terminate the Defendant from probation and re-sentence the them on the original charge. If that occurs, the Judge could:
- Impose a county jail term (Up to 364 Days)
- Impose a state prison term. The term cannot exceed the maximum exposure under the original charge. (I.e. On a 3rd Degree Charge it would be 5 Years)
If the judge does choose to impose a term of incarceration, the Defendant would be entitled to receive credit for any jail time already served.
Commons Ways a Defendant Violates Probation in NJ
There are countless ways in which a Defendant could violated probation in New Jersey, but some of the most common ways include the following:
- Failure to Report to Probation Officer as Directed
- Failing a Drug Test
- Failing to Complete an Order Treatment / Evaluation
- Failure to Pay Fines
- Re-arrested on New Charges
Hamilton NJ VOP Defense Attorneys
As you can see from above, violations of probations are nothing to take lightly. In fact, the potential penalties that an individual faces are identical to that of the original charge and as you saw above, the standard of proof at these hearings is drastically less then that of the original charge. If you have been violated from probation, violated from Pretrial Intervention or seeking to be terminated from probation early in Mercer County, the Keith Oliver Criminal Law can help. To speak to one of our Mercer County criminal defense attorneys today, please call us directly at 609-789-0779.