Probation Violation Defense Attorney in Columbus, Ohio
Probation, drug and alcohol addiction treatment, diversion programs for people suffering from mental health problems, and community service are slowly becoming preferred alternatives to jail sentences for misdemeanor and nonviolent felony criminal offenses in Columbus. A state law passed in 2011 essentially forced general and district court judges to impose forms of what the Ohio Revised Code (O.R.C.) calls “community control sanction” instead of lockup for many people who came to court with no criminal history, no evidence of injuring anyone, and a job and family. The goals were, first, to save money and, more importantly to both defendants and their loved ones, to better match penalties to the harm done by crimes ranging from thefts of goods technically worth more than $1,000 but not of great actual value to selling controlled prescription medications illegally to physically fighting with relatives.
Staying out of jail after receiving probation, however, requires complying completely with every action ordered by the court. Ohio law authorizes any law enforcement officer to immediately arrest any person even suspected of committing a parole violation. Misunderstandings are inevitable under such a system, as is the possibility of revising probation terms to make programs more manageable for both a probationer and the court officials responsible for supervising compliance.
Anyone picked up on suspicion of violating his or her parole or other community control sanction in Ohio’s capital city should seek assistance from a dedicated Columbus criminal defense lawyer at Leist Warner. Presenting evidence that shows intent to comply and having the ability to knowledgeably negotiate terms are essential to not having probation revoked.
What Counts as a Probation Violation
Each community control sanction is written specifically for an individual criminal defendant. This means that no set of probation terms is identical to any other; the requirements and the length of time each remains in effect differ for each person. Broadly, and as listed in O.R.C. § 2951.08, doing any of the following can lead to the revocation of parole, provided the action is prohibited or required:
- Owning, possessing, or using a firearm, deadly weapon, ammunition, or dangerous ordnance (i.e., explosives)
- Being in a specified structure or geographic area, which usually means ignoring a protective order
- Leaving house arrest, hospital treatment, inpatient mental health care, or a halfway house without court permission
- Visiting, speaking with, or trading electronic messages with a prohibited person
- Doing business with a prohibited person, even when that business is conducted through other people
- Drinking alcohol and using marijuana, narcotics, or other drugs
- Skipping drug tests, including disabling an alcohol-monitoring bracelet, or missing substance abuse support group meetings (e.g., Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous)
What Can Happen After a Probation Violation?
In a worst-case scenario, Ohio law gives an arresting officer three days to contact a probationer’s supervisor, then the relevant statutes permit another 30 days for a court to hold a hearing on whether an actual probation violation occurred. Defendants who lack their own criminal defense attorney can spend more than a month in the Columbus city jail or the Franklin County jail just waiting to learn whether they will face additional penalties.
When a judge does decide that an alleged violation merits revoking an existing probation plan, he or she can order extra hours of community service, a stay at a rehab facility, payment of additional monetary fines and restitution to victims, or a return to jail. Combinations of those penalties are frequently imposed.
Get Help from a Columbus, Ohio Criminal Attorney
Any person placed on probation should have a lawyer who knows them and their case. After an arrest for a charge of violating the terms of your community control sanction, it could be too late to contact a criminal defense lawyer and request assistance with fighting a probation revocation. As noted above, you may spend weeks locked up without even being given a chance to explain why you may have missed an appointment or unintentionally come into contact with a person you needed to avoid. If insufficient evidence to substantiate your version of events is provided, you may then find yourself serving years in prison on a sentence that was initially deferred.
Columbus-based criminal attorneys with Leist Warner know how Ohio parole works, and we may be able to help you understand your court orders and how best to comply with them so you do not end up in jail. Call (614) 222-1000 or contact us through our website to request a no-cost case evaluation.