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So You Messed Up on Probation...Now What?

If you were on probation, and you’ve messed up somehow there are some things you need to know.  First, although it’s definitely time for concern if you’ve messed up, don’t panic and shut down.  After all, you are still on probation.  Only the judge, not the probation officer, can revoke your probation.  Sure, probation officers will threaten and intimidate you.  They will tell you they have no choice but to file the paperwork.  But the filing of the paperwork (the motion to adjudicate or motion to revoke) doesn’t signal the end of your probation.  You are still on probation.  So, continue checking in, continue doing your community service, continue doing your classes.  If you’re behind on any of these things then catch up pronto.

If you’ve had a dirty UA then before you’re told by your probation officer start going and documenting your attendance at AA/NA meetings.  People (even probation officers, prosecutors and judges) are much more willing to help those whom they perceive as helping themselves.

If you’ve been arrested for a new offense then the first thing you need to do is talk to a lawyer.  Do not make the first call to your probation officer – no matter how well you think he/she likes you – without talking to a lawyer first.  Most probation departments have an unwritten rule that if a probationer is arrested for a new offense then they file a motion to revoke/adjudicate.  That doesn’t mean there aren’t things to do to mitigate any punishment.  Your lawyer will know what those things are.

Always document everything you do on probation.  Always keep a copy of everything for yourself.  It has happened where a probation officer – especially one from out of county – mistakenly doesn’t transfer all the community service hours, classes, etc.

Bottom line: if you ever have any questions while you’re on probation ask your lawyer.  If you’ve messed up while your on probation – no matter how insignificant you think it might be – take the time to call your lawyer.  That phone call and advice could save you jail or prison time.