Probation Violation: What to Expect 

Probation Violation
Probation Violation Court Hearing Document

Probation violations vary greatly in severity. Because of this, the consequences for a probation violation are quite varied as well. Consequences for a probation violation can range anywhere from a warning to being sent to jail to serve out the remainder of your sentence. 

Probation Versus Parole 

Probation and parole are very similar in some ways, but there are key differences. They both involve an individual who has been convicted of a crime getting released into society under the supervision of an officer of the court who is in charge of making sure that they follow the rules laid out by their release agreement. 

Probation is part of the sentencing handed down by the judge at end of your original trial. Sometimes a judge will hand down a sentence that involves time in jail followed by time on probation. Other times the judge will determine a sentence that involves no jail time and is instead solely probationary based. 

Parole, on the other hand, is not part of the original sentencing. The exception being when the ruling comes that there is no possibility for parole. If such a ruling is handed out, then the convicted individual will have to spend the entirety of their sentence in prison. Otherwise, at some point during their prison term, they will be eligible to stand before a parole board and request early release. 

How Consequences Are Determined 

When a person has been convicted of a crime, a judge will hand down sentencing. Different crimes come with different sentencing guidelines, within which a judge will work to determine an appropriate sentence. For less severe crimes, an individual may face probation rather than jail time or a combination of the two.  

The probationary period comes with a set of rules that the convicted individual must follow in order to remain in society and not be thrown in jail. 

The most common parole violation is a failure to show up for a scheduled meeting with a probation officer. Often the first offense of this type is met by a warning, but that can vary. You may face harsher consequences if you have a tougher probation officer or if your excuse for why you missed your meeting was not very good. 

A probation officer has a lot of discretion when it comes to the punishment they are allowed to hand out for a violation of parole. The biggest factors under consideration when determining consequences for a probation violation are the severity of the offense and the frequency of violations.  

Missing one probation meeting might not have severe consequences, but missing several could. At the same time, a single violation that involved another crime will likely have dire consequences for your current probation. Additionally, it will also result in new charges being brought against you. 

Types of Consequences 

Many different types of consequences are on the table as possibilities when someone violates their probation. Most of these decisions are left up to the probation officer, so as not to further tax the courts. Some of the possible consequences include: 

  • Warning 
  • Community Service 
  • Rehabilitation 
  • Counseling 
  • Fines 
  • Extension of Probationary Period 
  • Jail Time 


When you have committed a minor probation violation, your probation officer is likely to issue you a warning. The warning will most likely be made both verbally and in a written copy for your file. That way, if your case ends up getting transferred to another probation officer at some point, the warning is on file.  

The number of warnings that you receive before further action is taken depends on your probation officer and the severity and frequency of the infraction. 

You may not receive any warning at all before further consequences are deemed necessary. On the other hand, you could receive two or three warnings first if the violations are minor and spread out over a longer period. 

Community Service 

A probation officer may determine that community service is the best consequence for a probation violation. Some offenders already have a community service component as part of their additional sentence, and in those cases, a probation officer may increase the hours owed in community service. 


When your original crime involved drug or alcohol use, one of the conditions of your probation will likely be that you can not drink or use drugs. If you are found to have violated this clause of your probation, your probation officer may order you to rehab, or extend the original period for which you were ordered to rehabilitation. 


Another potential option for a probation violation is ordering that you attend counseling sessions. If your probation officer believes that you can benefit from counseling and that it will help you get back on track, they may order you to attend sessions. 


You may have already paid fines as part of your original probation agreement, but that doesn’t mean that more fines can’t be leveled against you. For financial consequences to be the result of a probation violation, there must first be a probation violation hearing. Fines will not be leveled by a probation officer but by a judge. 

A probation violation hearing is much like your original trial. However, the burden of proof needed to convict you of a violation is not nearly as strict as in a criminal trial. 

Extension of Probationary Period 

If violations lead a probation officer to believe that you are not ready to fully reenter society at the end of your probationary period, then you may face an extension of your probation. Once again though, this is typically left up to a judge, based on the recommendation of your parole office at a probation violation hearing. 

Jail Time 

At a probation violation hearing, you could find yourself facing jail time. The length of time for which you are sent to jail could be brief, or it could be for the duration of your probationary period. 

Hire a Lawyer 

If you or a loved one faces criminal charges, hiring an experienced attorney is essential to protect your rights.  

You have the right to legal representation both at your original trial and at a probation violation hearing. Depending upon your situation, hiring a qualified lawyer can mean the difference between spending years in prison and walking free. Don’t try to represent yourself. Have a competent attorney by your side to ensure the best possible outcome.