There are four steps to the probation violation in Colorado:
- Initial arrest
- First appearances and bond
- A violation of probation hearing
In many ways, the violation process in Colorado is like that of your initial charge. But, when you violate your probation, you don’t have the same rights and protections you did before. This is even if it’s your first time violating probation.
Attorney Jeff Weeden answers “how much time can you get for violating probation?” in this post.
Probation Violation: The Initial Arrest
Your P.O. will submit an affidavit to a judge if they suspect you have violated parole. This affidavit will describe your violation. The judge will make a judgment based on the affidavit and sign a violation of probation warrant.
Once the court issues the violation of probation warrant, you become a “wanted” citizen. Police will either arrest you, or you can turn yourself in at the local jail. Once you arrive there, they will issue you a court date.
If you’re on felony probation, your P.O. can arrest you for a probation violation without a signed warrant.
In some cases, the court may issue a summons and avoid a violation of probation warrant. A summons means you don’t have to go to jail-as long as you report to the court on the day the summons list as your court date.
A summons, rather than violation of probation warrants, is more often found with:
- misdemeanor charges
- those near the end of probation
- violations due to an inability to pay fines or court costs
First Appearances and Bond after VOP
Once you are in jail, you’ll make your first appearance so the judge can set your bond.
There is no entitlement to bond in a violation of probation case. A small number of judges will allow bond in a violation of probation case.
Bonds for probation violation are more common if:
- the violation is a technical one, or
- if you have completed most of the terms of your probation, or
- the only violation is an inability to pay fines.
How Long Before The Violation of Probation Hearing?
Most probation violation in Colorado cases aren’t entitled to bond. Therefore, you will have to stay in jail until your hearing. The time between your arrest and your hearing will vary based on your jurisdiction. It will be between two weeks and a month, though it could be longer.
Your attorney can also choose to continue your violation of probation hearing. This means that they will extend the time between your arrest and hearing. For more information, check out our Speedy Trial Calculator.
Attorneys may choose to do this if your probation violation involves a new charge. For example, someone commits armed robbery, while on felony probation. They violated probation by having a firearm. The armed robbery charges will take precedence over the violation of probation charge. If they beat those charges, the State will not pursue the violation of probation charges.
In certain cases, Colorado continues to pursue a VOP charge, even if you beat another new charge. The State may do this if you have several prior charges you beat in the past, or to entice you to confess to other crimes. The standard of proof for a violation of probation case is low, so it is easier to convict you.
Violation of Probation Hearing
A violation of probation hearing is like a non-jury trial. There is no entitlement to a jury. A judge will decide a violation of probation case.
What The State Must Prove in a VOP Hearing
To find a defendant guilty, the State has to prove that the violation was “willful and substantial”.
“Willful” means that you meant to commit the violation. It can also mean that you did nothing to prevent the violation from happening when you had the ability to do so.
The most common example of a willful violation is a positive drug test. There are very few reasons you would have drugs in your system without willfully taking them.
“Substantial” means that the violation affected your probation in a meaningful way.
The most common substantial probation violation in Colorado is a failure to report. If you don’t report to your parole officer, they have no way of knowing if you were acting in accord with your probation.
New law violations are also substantial. This is why the courts call them “substantive violations”. Probation means that the court trusts you not to get into any new trouble. Thus, picking up a new charge is a violation of that trust.
Standard Procedures of Probation Violation Hearings
Violation of probation hearings follow these standard procedures:
- The State Presents Its Case. The State will go first. In most cases, their only witness will be your parole officer. Your P.O. will testify on your violation. The State introduces documents. These can include: lab reports, your VOP warrant, or affidavits supporting this conclusion. Your attorney can cross-examine your P.O.
- Then Your Attorney. Your attorney may call any witnesses that may help you. The State will be able to cross-examine these witnesses. After this, the State will have an opportunity for rebuttal. Rebuttals are rare in violation of probation cases.
- Closing Arguments. In closing arguments, as in a regular trial, both sides will reassert their arguments. The courts allow hearsay as evidence. Hearsay cannot be the sole basis for conviction.
- The Judge’s Decision. If a judge determines with 51% confidence that you committed a violation, you’re guilty. And, if the court finds you guilty, the judge will sentence you. If the court finds you not guilty and releases you, you are still on probation.
The judge has several options for your sentencing. The possibilities for your particular case depend on your original charge. A court cannot sentence you to anything more than it could have for your original charge.
Your sentencing cannot increase past the original max charge. To answer “how much time can you get for violating probation?” It depends on how much time you can get for your original charge.
The options for your new sentencing include:
- Time Served
- New Probation Sentence
- Jail or Prison Time
“Time served” means the judge believes you’ve served enough time awaiting your hearing. This is common when your original charge is a minor one, such as petit theft or possession of marijuana.
“Reinstatement” means you only complete the terms of your current probation.
A “New Probation Sentence” is exactly what it sounds like: new terms of probation. This involves a longer probation term.
Jail or prison sentences are common when your original charges were more serious. The rationale is if you didn’t do probation right the first time, you won’t do it the second time.
How Much Time Can You Get For Violating Probation?
If a judge reinstates or gives a new probation sentence, they must give credit for time served on probation. The same goes for a jail or prison sentence. But jail and prison sentences do not overlap.
Thus, completing 2 of 3 years of probation won’t take off of jail time. Once you violate, the judge can issue the maximum sentence for the original charge.
Attorney Jeff Weeden is an experienced and dedicated criminal defense attorney in the Denver, Colorado area. If you are wondering “how much time can you get for violating probation?” or if there is a violation of probation warrant for your arrest, contact WeedenLaw at 720.307.4330. You can also send us a message for a free case review.