One mistake should rarely define a person. In the event of a felony conviction, that mistake can make it difficult for an individual to efficiently serve their agreed upon sentencing without issue, even in instances where probation is offered. The concept of probation in Colorado is designed to allow someone convicted of a crime to remain in the community, as opposed to confined within a prison system. This arrangement does not come without its own set of challenges. Often the terms of probation become misunderstood or difficult to comply with, resulting in violations. In these instances it is imperative an individual knows their rights and has proper legal support to confront the challenges a potential felony probation violation can produce.
Who is Eligible for Felony Probation?
An individual can apply for felony probation if they have a guilty plea or conviction of a felony. The type of crime is relevant. Certain crimes are not eligible for felony probation. Those crimes include:
- Murder (first- and second-degree)
- Voluntary Manslaughter
- Involuntary Manslaughter
- Sexual Assault
(See our blog Burglary vs Robbery: What’s the Difference?)
Typical Probation Terms
The probation terms set depend on the crime convicted of/plead to, past criminal history, and circumstances surrounding the crime in question. There is no limit to how long the probation period can last. The judge sets a timeframe that is commensurate with the length of time to complete adequate rehabilitative services.
What Are Common Types of Felony Probation Violations?
Generally, two categories of violation are associated with probation violations in Colorado. These violations are known as “rule violations” and “law violations.”
Rule violations include instances of the individual on probation violating a term or terms set within the probation agreement. Examples of rule violations include failed drug tests or failure to show for scheduled probation officer meetings. All probation terms must be followed.
Law violations occur whenever an individual commits a new crime after placement on probation. The type of crime, whether misdemeanor or felony, does not matter. Any offense beyond a minor traffic violation fits in this category.
What Happens If I Violate Probation?
If someone violates the probation agreement, they face consequences of a subsequent arrest without bond. An additional hearing follows where the judge takes the various factors surrounding the violation into consideration. This can result in a change to the terms of the probation agreement. The judge could also determine that jail time is more appropriate and adjust the sentencing accordingly. The individual is able to produce defense case, but the judge ultimately determines the next course of action.
What Are Common Defenses for Felony Probation Violations?
In the event that a person is found to be in violation of their probation, there are several avenues that can be explored in service of that person’s exoneration. The methodology behind these defense strategies can range from the fairness of the expectations to the physical factors resulting in a felony probation violation.
If an individual with learning disabilities reaches a felony probation agreement, it may be a challenge for the person to complete court-ordered educational programs. This sets a dangerous precedent and creates an unattainable goal. Your defense attorney may attempt to create accommodations that would make the requisite education a more realistic objective.
Another avenue that can be explored circles around the idea that there were physical barriers or issues that call into question the validity of the failed metric. For example, if the felony probation violation comes as the result of a failed drug test, a defense may be that the individual was taking a prescription medication that resulted in a false positive on the drug screen.
The accuracy of the testing equipment, as well as the material handling procedures, comes into question. Chain of custody for the alleged tainted sample is paramount. Sometimes circumstances prevent the individual from physically appearing or reporting, such as a hospitalization or act of God. Those circumstances could be used to bolster a defense that proper reporting would have been impossible. A more common defense is the financial health of the offender. If the fines/fees associated with probation reach levels the individual cannot afford, then adjusted terms become necessary.
Do I Have to Meet With a Probation Officer While on Felony Probation?
Under felony probation terms, individuals typically have the requirement to meet with a supervisor or probation officer. This happens on a regular basis. Failure to meet with the supervisor on agreed upon schedule terms could result in termination of the probation. Due to the more serious nature of the felony, supervision could be more frequent or intensive than for a misdemeanor. A person on probation may also have to complete programs or services meant to aid in the rehabilitation process, such as anger management counseling or drug rehabilitation therapy.
Can I Have My Felony Probation Ended Early?
Under ideal circumstances, individuals who meet all of the requirements set forth in the probation agreement while avoiding any additional violations are subject to a reduction in probation time. There must be a formal request submitted and the judge will make a determination based on a variety of factors, such as attendance for monitoring, sobriety compliance, and full restitution of fees and fines.
Contact Weeden Law Today
Navigating the legal maze can be confusing and lead to unintended noncompliance. If you or someone you know needs assistance with the terms of their probation agreement, contact the compassionate, experienced attorneys at WeedenLaw to help protect your rights. You can also call our offices at 720.307.4330 for a free consultation.