Violation of Probation (VOP)
Probation Violations in Utah
Probation in Utah can be given as a form of sentencing for individuals who have committed certain misdemeanor or felony offenses. The period of probation can range from 12 to 36 months, depending on the severity of the offense committed. During this time period, the probationer must abide by certain rules and restrictions, including regular reporting to a probation officer or random drug testing.
Violation of probation can lead to serious consequences including being convicted of the underlying offense, or being sentenced to jail or prison time. Defenses to violation of probation often center around whether the violation was willful and substantial.
If you believe that your probation officer will alleged that you violated your probation, then call today to discuss your legal options with an experienced criminal defense attorney. In certain cases, a felony violation of probation warrant can lead to extradition to Utah if it is alleged that the person is a fugitive from justice.
Salt Lake City Violation of Probation Attorney
Darren Levitt defends individuals who have been charged with felony or misdemeanor violation of probation in Salt Lake County, Box Elder County, Weber County, Cache County, and the surrounding communities. Call (801) 455-1743 to begin exploring your options during a free, no-obligation consultation to discuss your violation of probation case in or around Salt Lake City, Utah.
Utah Violation of Probation Information Center
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Types of Violation of Probation Allegations in Salt Lake City and Utah
When you are placed on probation you are given certain special conditions that you must complete, which may include periodic reporting to a probation officer or community service. You are also instructed on certain standard conditions that apply to most probationers, including the basic rule: "do not commit any misdemeanor or felony criminal acts while you are on probation."
Common allegations for violation of probation involve the following types of violations:
- Committing a new misdemeanor or felony offense while on probation;
- Testing dirty on a urine test which indicates the probation used a controlled substance such as marijuana, cocaine, or narcotics;
- Failing to complete community service hours;
- Failing to successfully complete drug counseling or other classes;
- Absconding or leaving the jurisdiction without the probation officer's permission;
- Failing to report to monthly meetings to see the probation officer; or
- Failing to pay restitution, court costs, or fines.
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Due Process in a Utah VOP Proceedings - What to Expect
The United States Supreme Court has determined that probation revocation proceedings, which are not criminal in nature and involve only a conditional liberty interest, are entitled only to the 'minimum requirements of due process.’ “State v. Orr, 2005 UT 92, 12, 127 P.3d 1213 (quoting Gagnon v. Scarpelli, 411 U.S. 778, 786 (1973)).
The minimum requirements in felony and misdemeanor violation of probation cases include the following:
- Written notice of the claimed violations of probation
- Disclosure to the probationer of evidence against him
- An opportunity to be heard in person and to present witnesses and documentary evidence
- The right to confront and cross-examine adverse witnesses (unless the hearing officer specifically finds good cause for not allowing confrontation)
- A neutral and detached judge to hear the case and determine whether the violation was willful and substantial by a preponderance of the evidence
- A written statement by the fact finders as to the evidence relied on and reasons for revoking probation and/or taking other action
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Utah Violation of Probation Hearing - Admitting or Denying the Violation
After you have been served with the accusation that you violated probation, you will be brought before the court to either "admit" or "deny" the accusation. If you admit that you violated probation, the trial court has the discretion to revoked, modified, continued, or restart the entire probation term.
If you deny the accusation that you violated probation, the trial court will schedule a violation of probation hearing. The court will then hear evidence and decide the case by a "preponderance of the evidence" instead of the higher "beyond a reasonable doubt" standard used in criminal cases.
At the violation of probation hearing the trial court must determine whether a failure to follow one of the conditions of probation was substantial and willful. If the court finds that the violation was trivia or inadvertent, then the court will typically dismiss the allegation and reinstate the probation.
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Trial Court Has Wide Discretion in a Violation of Probation Case
The decision whether to grant or deny probation rests “within the sound discretion of the judge who hears the case.”State v. Killpack, 2008 UT 49, 59, 191 P.3d 17. The judge's ruling will stand unless it can be shown on appeal that the sentence met one or more of the following standards:
- Exceeded statutory limits
- Failed to take into account all legally relevant factors
- Was so inherently unfair as to constitute abuse of discretion
- Was a clearly excessive sentence
On appeal, the higher court will not disturb the sentence and find the trial court abused its discretion, unless it can be said that no reasonable person would take the view adopted by the trial court. State v. Wright, 893 P.2d 1113, 1120 (Utah Ct.App.1995).
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Misdemeanor Violation of Probation Cases in Salt Lake City, Utah
In misdemeanor cases that authorize a fine and jail term, the judge has a number of sentencing options:
- The court can impose a sentence that includes a jail term up to the maximum authorized by the statute or a fine or both. For a class B misdemeanor, the sentence can be up to 6 months in jail. For a class C misdemeanor, the sentence can be up to 90 days in jail.
- The court can impose a sentence and then suspend the sentence in whole or in part.
- The court can hold a plea in abeyance in order to give the defendant a chance to comply with the conditions imposed by the court until the court either withdraws the plea to dismiss the case or the court enters a conviction and sentence.
- The court can approve a diversion agreement presented by the prosecutor.
- Finally the court can impose a term of probation to be served with special conditions of probation to be completed during that term of probation.
When a defendant is placed on probation, he or she will be required to report to a probation officer. As an alternative to jail, Salt Lake City Probation Services provides misdemeanor probation supervision to court-ordered clients convicted of criminal offenses in Salt Lake County.
As part of misdemeanor probation, the individual may be ordered to complete the following:
- Substance abuse treatment and education
- Installation of Ignition interlock device
- Drug Testing
- Risk and Needs assessment
- Regular face-to-face and telephonic contacts as required
- Mental health treatment
- Electronic monitoring
- Community service
- Other conditions as ordered by the court
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Felony Violation of Probation Cases in Salt Lake City, Utah
For individuals on felony probation, any allegation of a violation of probation typically comes with a "no bond" bench warrant. Those individuals must often wait in jail until their case can be heard. Contact an experienced criminal defense attorney at Levitt Legal to discuss your violation of probation case and defenses that you may have.
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Motion for Sentence Reduction under Utah Code Section 76-3-402 (The Utah 402 Reduction)
The defendant can file a motion for a sentence reduction pursuant to Utah Code section 76-3-402. See Utah Code Ann. § 76-3-402 (2003). For instance, if you enter a plea to a first degree felony, you can file a motion to moved the district court to reduce the offense to a second degree felony pursuant to section 76-3-402(1).
Utah's Code Section 76-3-402(1) states, in relevant part:
If the court, having regard to the nature and circumstances of the offense of which the defendant was found guilty and to the history and character of the defendant, concludes it would be unduly harsh to record the conviction as being for that degree of offense established by statute and to sentence the defendant to an alternative normally applicable to that offense, the court may unless otherwise specifically provided by law enter a judgment of conviction for the next lower degree of offense and impose sentence accordingly.
Utah Code Ann. § 76-3-402(1). The district court has wide latitude and discretion when imposing a sentence. Although the court must all legally relevant factors, if the sentence imposed is not clearly excessive then it will not be overturned on appeal. Even after reviewing all the evidence and testimony presented, the court may find that there is no basis for a reduction in sentence pursuant to section 76-3-402.
Even after probation is successfully completed, the defendant can move for a 402 Reduction under Utah law. In certain cases the charges can be reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor which allows you to avoid the "convicted felon" designation if the reduction occurs.
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Utah's Statutory Scheme for Violation of Probation Cases
Utah Code section 77-18-1 provides that “[o]n a plea of guilty, guilty and mentally ill, no contest, or conviction of any crime or offense, the court may, after imposing sentence, suspend the execution of the sentence and place the defendant on probation.” Utah Code Ann. § 77-18-1(2)(a) (Supp.2006).
Utah Code section 77-18-1(12)(e)(iii) states, in its entirety: “If probation is revoked, the defendant shall be sentenced or the sentence previously imposed shall be executed.” Utah Code Ann. § 77-18-1(12)(e)(iii).
Once a defendant is sentenced and placed on probation, revocation of probation can result only in “the sentence previously imposed [being] executed.” Id.§ 77-18-1(12)(e)(iii). Utah Code section 77-18-1 distinguishes between “imposing sentence,” which is a necessary prerequisite to probation, and “the execution of the sentence.” Id. at § 77-18-1(2)(a). See Salt Lake City v Jaramillo, 2007 UT App 32, 156 P3d 839, 841-42.
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Violation of Probation Resources
Misdemeanor Probation Services in Salt Lake County, Utah - Read more about the criminal justice services provided by probation services including the domestic violence program, drug court services, and treatment services. Focus DUI Program and Pre-Sentence Reports.
Salt Lake County Criminal Justice Probation Services
145 East 1300 South, Suite #501
SLC, Utah 84115
Administration and Day Reporting Center for Felony Probation in Salt Lake City, Utah - Read more about the Felony Probation Day Reporting Center located inside the offices of the Salt Lake Adult Probation Office, which provides classes and drug testing. The Day Center acts as an intermediate sanction or an alternative to a prison sentence for offenders who have violated probation or parole. It provides electronic monitoring with equipment that uses a Global Positioning System, pre-sentence interviews, and a fugitive unit that handles cases after the court issues a warrant for that person in a violation of probation case.
Adult Probation & Parole
Salt Lake City Office
36 West Fremont Avenue
Salt Lake City, UT 84101-3101
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Levitt Legal, PLLC | Salt Lake City Probation Violation Lawyer
Violation of probation can be a scary offense, especially if you have already started the task of fulfilling any sentence requirements. If you are facing charges of violation of probation, contact Salt Lake City criminal defense attorney Darren Levitt today. He will assess your case and work with you to develop a solid defense strategy before your court hearing. Landing back in front of the judge can be especially difficult on an individual. Make sure that you're taking the proper precautions to avoid unfortunate outcomes. Call Levitt Legal today.
Last Updated in December 22, 2012. Contributor: Darren Levitt