Receiving probation as a penalty instead of a jail sentence can feel like getting a second chance at life. You may have expected to spend some time incarcerated, and now you will only face the ongoing scrutiny of a probation officer instead of the inside of a prison cell.
However, just because you managed to avoid going to jail immediately during your sentencing does not mean that you are out of the proverbial woods yet. In reality, you remain at risk of going to jail for the entire time that you are still on probation. Even small mistakes could result in the revocation of your probation and the requirement to serve the full sentence associated with the criminal offense.
Lifestyle choices can have a direct impact on probation success
Like most states, New Jersey has relatively strident rules in place for those on probation. For example, you cannot travel out of the state of New Jersey without written permission from either the court or your probation officer.
You will also have to attend meetings with your probation officer as often as they demand them. Missing one for any reason could result in the loss of your probation status. Similarly, lying to your probation officer could also result in jail time. Consuming alcohol or illegal drugs, as well as spending time in a location where there are illegal drugs could mean going to jail.
Even having the wrong person visit your home or live with you could be a violation of your probation. Typically, the law prohibits any contact with an individual convicted of a felony. As if that wasn't difficult enough, individuals on probation also need to maintain an address, despite the complications of securing housing with a criminal conviction. Ongoing employment is also often a condition of probation, which can also be difficult for those with a criminal record.
You can defend yourself against allegations of probation violation
Sometimes, you inadvertently violate your probation but have a valid, legal reason for doing so. Other times, a mistake results in an assumption by the courts that you violated your probation when you did not, in fact, do so.
In order to protect those who have complied with the terms of probation from unjust incarceration, New Jersey does allow individuals accused of probation violations to defend themselves in court. If you believe that you could wind up in jail because of an alleged probation violation, talking with an experienced New Jersey criminal defense attorney is in your best interest.
Even if you didn't partner with an attorney for your initial defense, having a legal advocate on your side as you fight the allegations that you violated your probation terms could make the difference between resuming probation and going to jail.