Annapolis Maryland New Rules about Probation and Parole Violations

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.

What is the Justice Reinvestment Act?

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 Act established “a program to implement the use of gradationed sanctions in response to technical violations of conditions of supervision.”

What are the penalties for violating probation in Maryland?

What this means in plain language is that the DPSCS has a new list of punishments if you get busted for violating probation or parole:

  • First violation – 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.

What are some examples of probation violations?

Common examples of violating probation include failing to do the following:

  • Show up regularly for meetings with a probation officer
  • Completing community service requirements
  • Going to work and school per probation requirements
  • Possessing a firearm or other weapon
  • Pay fines or restitution
  • Contacting people on a no-contact list
  • Changing address without notifying parole officer
  • Refraining from further criminal activity

This is just a partial list, and a person who violates a judge’s terms of probation can quickly find the police at their door with an arrest warrant.

What happens if I violate the terms of probation or parole?

Even with changes in legislation on the way, 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.

Probation violations are treated as a civil matter and not a criminal one. You will have a hearing with a judge, who will make a decision on whether or not you did violate those terms, and make an appropriate sentencing. Penalties for violation can include from 15 to 45 days in prison, depending on whether or not it’s a first offense, and the severity of the violation.

Parole violations work much the same. Violating any of the conditions of your parole can make you subject to revocation of your parole and re-incarceration.

What’s a technical probation violation?

Technical violation of probation include things like 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. They might seem minor, but you have to walk the line or you could still have your probation revoked.

What happens when I complete probation?

You’ll be informed of the end date of your probation during sentencing. If you have violated the terms of your probation at any point, it may be extended. You may also be able to apply for early termination if you have been compliant with the process and the judge deems it appropriate.

When your probationary period ends, it’s important to remember that it does not erase your conviction. However, you can consult with an attorney about sealing or expunging your criminal record, which may be possible in a small number of cases.

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 410-271-1892 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.