There are a handful of ways you can get out of prison: you can serve your time in full, you can receive a full pardon, or you can get out early on parole. In some cases, however, a judge might suspend your sentence and put you on probation instead. On October 1, 2016, the Justice Reinvestment Act went into effect, which changes some of the rules regarding probation. From now on, the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services (DPSCS) has to use a screening tool to assess anyone who they think is likely to reoffend, and some come up with a plan to keep people from going back to jail.
The other thing the Act did was “establish a program to implement the use of gradationed sanctions in response to technical violations of conditions of supervision.” Or, in real language, DPSCS has a new list of punishments if you get busted for violating probation or parole:
- First violations – no more than 15 days in jail
- Second violations – no more than 30 days in jail
- Third violations – no more than 45 days in jail
Keep in mind that just because you have been accused of violating your probation, it doesn’t mean that you actually violated it – but being accused of a parole or probation violation could cause the court to change its mind about that suspended sentence, and you’ll find yourself in a cell faster than you can blink. The court does have leeway to change theses limits if in doing so, they do not create any kind of public safety problem for a victim or a witness.
Recent legislation regarding parole and probation
While the Act seems to be working – the prison population has dropped, and more people are getting treatment instead of jail time – the legislatures want to keep tweaking the laws to keep moving in the right direction. HB 839/ SB 0779, which would establish the Central Home Detention Unit of the Division of Parole and Probation, and authorize more powers to the Director of the Division of Parole and Probation, is making its way through the legislature. Before the Maryland Assembly adjourned, it also reviewed legislation that would prevent a governor from denying parole to a prisoner who had served 30 years of a life sentence. This rule could potentially affect cases where juvenile offenders have been sentenced to life in prison, too.
Violating parole and probation
Changes are happening, but violating parole or probation can still land you in hot water. How hot that water is, of course, is determined by what you’re accused of doing.
What’s a technical violation?
Minor traffic offenses, going late to any meetings you might have – violations of the rules that you must follow to stay out of jail or prison. It might seem minor, but you have to walk the line or you could have your probation revoked.
Well, what other kind of violations are there?
Getting arrested, have a summons issued against you, serious traffic offenses, failure to show up at your meetings with your parole officer or probation officer, violating a no-contact order: any of these can land you in hot water.
What happens when my probationary period is finished?
You get a nice little certificate of completion. But that certificate means you can’t be denied a license, so you want it.
Whether you violated your probation or you’re being accused of something you didn’t do, you gotta call an Annapolis criminal defense lawyer – fast. I’ve been helping people accused of probation violations for almost 20 years; I know what to do to help you. You can call my office – Drew Cochran, Attorney at Law – at 410-777-8103 or you can fill out this contact form instead.
When life gets messy and you need legal help, just remember: Keep Calm – and Call Drew.