Community control, more commonly known as probation, is a form of punishment in a civil case. Instead of sending a person to prison or jail, the judge suspends the prison or jail time in exchange for supervising the offender. For example, if a person is convicted of theft as a M1 (misdemeanor of the first degree) and the judge imposes probation, the judge may sentence the offender to a 180-day jail term (the maximum jail term for a M1), suspending the jail term for a period of probation. If the offender violates one of the conditions of probation, the court can revoke the offender's probation and impose the 180-day jail term.
Under Ohio law, probation can last no longer than 5 years. The judge who sentences the offender has broad discretion to impose conditions of the probation, including:
Ordering the offender to stay away from and have no contact with certain persons, such as the victim of a crime;
Not committing any violation of federal, state, or local law;
Ordering the offender to obtain employment or an education;
Ordering the offender to engage in counseling.
A person who is placed on probation is assigned a probation officer. If the probation officer has reasonable grounds to believe that the offender violated a condition of probation, then the probation officer may file a statement of violations with the court, which outlines the probation officer's reasoning for the probation violation. The court will then schedule at least two hearings to address the statement of violation and determine whether revoking probation is appropriate.
At the first hearing to determine whether to revoke an offender's probation, the court must determine whether there is probable cause (i.e., reasonable grounds) to believe that the offender violated the terms of probation. This hearing is oftentimes called a probable cause hearing. If the court determines that probable cause exists, then the court must hold a second hearing to to determine whether it should revoke the offender's probation. This second hearing is oftentimes called a mitigation hearing, where the attorney for the offender can offer reasons for not revoking probation.
Sanctions or penalties for a probation violation vary, but include:
No action taken and continuing probation.
Extending the probation term.
Adding more conditions to the probation.
Ordering the offender to serve any amount of the suspended prison term or jail term.
Have you been accused of a probation violation? Contact The Stavroff Law Firm today to learn about your rights and begin building your defense.