Georgia Probation Bond Attorney

As the ever-changing circumstances of the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) continue to be reported, Chief Justice Harold Melton of the Supreme Court of Georgia declared a statewide judicial emergency due to the spread of the coronavirus throughout Georgia “and the potential infection of those who work in or are required to appear in our courts.”

The order says courts should prioritize matters such as cases “where an immediate liberty or safety concern is present requiring the attention of the court as soon as the court is available.”  We take this to mean bond hearings and first appearance hearings will go on and our firm will be present for these hearings. 

During times like this, probation violation hearings become complicated. Assuming you cannot hire a lawyer, the first thing you can do is call your probation officer and ask them to sign for a “consent to a probation bond”, which is typically rare, but we have been successful of late in Fulton, Cobb and Clayton counties in getting in touch with our client’s probation officers.  Then the challenge is to speak to a Judge and prosecutor to present a consent order. We have recently been successful in doing this and getting a signature bond for one of our clients in Fulton and Cobb counties. In one instance we were able to get a Cobb County Probation Officer to withdraw the warrants where we were able to show proof client paid his outstanding fees.  We can also file a motion for a probation bond. (See a sample of our motion for probation bond below).  Although therese are rare if the violation is not serious Judges are more likely to grant a probation bond than prior to the emergency we currently find ourselves in.

Although courts are closed for non-essential hearings, hearings on probation bond are still taking place. I can assure you that our firm remains dedicated to our founding principles of client service, respect, and integrity. We are still working hard to fight for your case and will continue to do so, despite these times. Know that you can count of the same level of quality delivered by the professionals you know and trust, as you always have.  Should you have a probation revocation warrant or a loved one in custody on a probation revocation in Fulton County, Cobb County, Dekalb County, Gwinnett County, Cherokee County, or Forsyth County please call us today at 404-581-0999.

A Quick Guide to Probation Revocations

Probation revocations in Georgia can be daunting for even your most seasoned criminal defense attorneys.  As I tell many of our clients when you are on probation it is like having one foot in the street and one foot in the jail.  Any little misstep can cause an over eager probation officer to file a petition to revoke your probation and place you in jail or prison. 

Two important aspects.

Two important aspects to mention when it comes to a probation revocation: first, the burden of proof on the state is much lower than in a criminal trial.  In a criminal trial the burden of proof is beyond a reasonable doubt – meaning any doubt that is reasonable requires a jury to acquit.  In probation revocation hearings the standard is preponderance of evidence.  Preponderance is a much lower standard.  Nonetheless, the government must prove you violated your probation.  Secondly, unlike a trial, the judge and not a jury sits as trier of fact.  This is important because instead of getting 12 reasonable minds to decide your case the judge himself or herself decides. 

Your options.

If your probation is being revoked because you were arrested for a new crime you actually have some options to avoid being revoked.  First, the State is obligated to prove you committed a new crime.  This means under Georgia law the probation officer must bring in competent evidence you actually committed a new crime.  Thus, if you have not been yet found guilty, the State must bring in actual live witnesses to the courtroom on the day your revocation is scheduled to testify to the new crime. 

If you have already been found guilty, the State is obligated to bring in certified copies of disposition showing you were found guilty.  In my experience, the best strategy is to put the new offense off as along as possible and to have the probation revocation after you go to trial on the new offense.  As discussed above, the standard of proof is different, but there is something to be said if you are exonerated on the new charges and those new charges are the basis of the Georgia probation revocation.

Call us today for your free consultation at 404-581-0999. We will hear the details of your case and provide you with expert legal advice. Don’t gamble on your freedom.

Probation Revocation in Georgia

Understanding Probation and Revocation

Most sentences in criminal cases involve a period on probation. Probation, while timely and expensive, allows you to serve your sentence in the outside world and not behind bars. The downside of this is if your probation officer alleges you violated a term of probation, he or she can petition for a probation revocation, which can land you in jail for a period of time, even up to the full amount left on your sentence.

A Word on Probation 

             Probation can come with a myriad of requirements that you must adhere to in order to steer clear from trouble in the courts. For example, the judge may order you to complete classes, fines, or pay restitution while on probation. The judge will also likely require you to stay away from alcohol and drugs.Another important term of probation is that you not commit any new crimes while on probation. 

What happens when probation is revoked?

             If the probation officer believes you have violated a term of your probation, they will draft a petition for probation revocation and issue a warrant for your arrest. A hearing is later held where the person accused will have the opportunity to essentially admit to the allegation for the purpose of the hearing, or to deny what the probation officer is alleging and have a hearing.In a hearing with this much on the line, it is imperative to have an attorney represent your interests.

Am I going back to jail?

             A probation revocation does not necessarily mean you are going back to jail, although it certainly can end that way. An experienced criminal defense attorney can potentially negotiate other options that do not involve jail. An attorney can also have a contested hearing when the allegations within the petition are denied. The standard of proof is lower in probation revocation hearings than in criminal trials. In a trial, the judge or jury has to find beyond a reasonable doubt that you are guilty. In a probation revocation, it is a preponderance of the evidence, which essentially means the judge has to find you ‘more likely than not’ violated your probation in the ways the officer is saying.

Find the right Attorney

             Having an attorney who is familiar with the playing field is key in these cases as it is imperative to be familiar with the judge, prosecutor, and probation officers involved. Having a pending probation revocation can be a frightening experience to go through, because of the time in jail that may be over your head going into it. A failed drug screen can land you in jail for months. Committing a new crime can land you back in jail for years. There is a lot on the line, but not all hope is lost. If you or a loved one is facing a probation revocation in Georgia, give us a call today at 404-581-0999 for a free consultation.

by Mary Agramonte

Probation Revocation and Parole

Can a judge revoke my probation when I have allegedly violated probation after being sentenced but I have not yet started my probation?  Can a judge revoke my probation where it goes non-report or suspended upon completion of doing an act (classes, drug screens or evaluation).

The question requires some explanation as to situations as to where this scenario may rear its ugly head.  Defendant is sentenced in one county to a sentence of 10 years to serve 2, balanced probated.  While client is in prison or on parole he commits a new crime; ie he gets charged with possession of drugs in prison.  Even though he has not started probation as he is under the department of corrections supervision he can still be revoked on the county level by the judge.  Here are a couple of additional scenarios where the judge has the ability to revoke probation even though you are not technically on probation:

Judge sentences you in Cobb County to probation to run Consecutive to your sentence in Paulding County.  You are currently serving time in Paulding County and have not yet started serving your probation in Cobb.  Nonetheless, you can be revoked in Paulding and Cobb for committing a new crime.

Similarly, where a judge suspends a sentence.  For example you get 5 year sentence suspended upon completion of an alcohol evaluation.  You violate your probation shortly after being placed on the suspended sentence – in this scenario you can be revoked for the five years less any time that has elapsed since your sentence started even if you have already completed the evaluation – where the court has not signed an order allowing suspension to commence.

OCGA 17-10-1 (a) provides: that the trial court has the power and authority to suspend or probate all or any part of the entire sentence under such rules and regulations as the judge deems proper, including the authority to revoke the  [*630]  suspension or probation when the defendant has violated any of the rules and regulations prescribed by the court, even before the probationary period has beg

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Here are the reasons the court of appeals found persuasive on why  you can still be revoked even though you are not technically on reporting probation:

While probation may be considered a mild form of ambulatory punishment imposing meaningful restraints, its true nature is an act of judicial grace. The Legislature has granted to the judiciary discretionary power to grant probation as a means of testing a convicted defendant’s integrity and future good behavior. Unlike parole, granted by an administrative agency, probation is granted by the court when the sentencing judge deems the protection of society does not demand immediate incarceration. In cases where a convicted defendant’s “future good behavior” has already been compromised by the commission of another criminal act even before the formal probationary period begins, a trial court should not be required to allow such  defendant to serve a previously imposed probated sentence when the court deems the protection of society demands revocation.

by Scott Smith