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Receiving probation instead of prison time may seem like winning the lottery. Most people’s primary goal when fighting a criminal charge is to avoid spending long periods of time behind bars, after all.

The truth is, however, the rules you must follow when under probation are quite strict, and the consequences for violating probation are usually severe.

When you're under probation, you're monitored very closely. If you do anything wrong during this time you may actually end up behind bars--what you were hoping to avoid.

Violating probation in South Carolina

The exact rules you must follow while under probation will vary depending on the type of crime you committed and how serious it was. It's important to be aware of all of the rules you must follow while under probation. Breaking any of the terms of your South Carolina probation could put you in jail. It’s best to speak to your lawyer and have him or her explain all the rules to you clearly so you don’t accidentally break one.

What happens when you violate probation?

If you have violated your probation, the penalty may be handled administratively (that means, by your probation office) or in court. Since each crime and violation are different, there isn’t a comprehensive list to let you know how yours will be handled. The best bet is, as always, to avoid any violation so you don’t have to worry about the consequences.

If you've committed a violation of your probation that cannot be handled administratively, you’ll be called to General Sessions court for a hearing. In this case, you will receive a summons to appear in court.

If you fail to appear, a bench warrant will be issued, and you will be brought in for a hearing. Bench warrants have no expiration date, so once one has been issued you must ultimately appear in court.

What should I expect at a probation violation hearing?

At the hearing, you will have to either admit or deny the violation.

After your plea, your lawyer can contest the violation and/or present evidence to support your arguments.

Depending on your violation, your lawyer may present “evidence in mitigation.” Evidence in mitigation is any evidence that explains why your violation occurred, showing that you weren’t entirely to blame for the violation.

It's up to the judge to decide what to do after hearing the evidence presented. The judge may dismiss the violation entirely, meaning that you will suffer no consequence for the violation. He or she may also decide to send you to prison for a period of time before continuing with probation. In the most serious cases, the judge may decide to revoke your probation and send you to jail for the entire remainder of your sentence.

If you're sentenced to jail time, it's probable you will be taken into custody immediately. Judges may, in some cases, decide to delay reporting time, but this is uncommon and will depend on the degree to which the judge thinks you’re a flight risk.

Common Questions About SC Probation Violations

Can you bond out on a probation violation?

If you're arrested for a probation violation, you can be released on bond until your hearing. The amount of bond will be determined at a bond hearing. You can also bond out of jail if you’re awaiting trial to determine the consequence for violating your probation.

Can I be extradited because of a probation violation?

Yes. If you have been accused of violating your probation, you could be extradited. If you're extradited, you may be charged fees intended to cover some of the cost of your extradition.

Will a probation violation affect employment?

That depends on your job. If your employer has rules regarding convictions, your employment may be in jeopardy. Similarly, if you're sentenced to jail as a result of violating your probation, your employer may terminate your employment as a result of your inability to work for an extended period of time. Your employer isn't required to hold your job for you.

Does failing a drug test violate probation?

Yes. Testing positive for either drugs, alcohol or both is considered a violation of your probation.

Are probation violations public record?

Yes. Probation violations do become part of your public record and will be reported on a background check. The only way around this is if your violation is expunged.

Are charges prior to probation a violation?

No. However if you have charges that you haven't received consequences for yet, judges can take the fact that you are already on probation into consideration when deciding your sentence. This means you could be at greater risk of going to jail for these charges.

What are some probation violations?

There are many ways to violate your probation.

Most violations result from failing to do things you were required to do under the terms of your probation. For example, if you fail to check in or don’t pay your fees, you can be charged with violating your probation.

The second type of probation violation is committing a new crime while under probation. Even if this new crime is in no way related to the crime for which you were originally sentenced to probation, committing the crime is a violation of your probation.

How many probation violations can you have?

There isn't a set number of probation violations you can have before going to jail. Because probation violations can vary in seriousness, it's possible to receive multiple violations and still be on probation. However, it's also possible to only commit one offense and be sentenced to jail time, if the offense is considered serious.

Do you go to jail for probation violation?

The judge decides whether you will go to jail as a result of a probation violation. The judge’s decision will depend on a number of factors including the seriousness of your offense, the number of prior offenses and the judges general attitude towards probation violations.

What does it mean if my credit is denied after a probation violation?

As you move through your probation, you earn credits for the time you have completed. If you’re found guilty of a probation violation, one potential consequence is the denial of credits. This means that you may lose credit for time that you’ve successfully served under probation.

Is probation violation a felony or misdemeanor?

A probation violation can be either a felony or a misdemeanor depending on the seriousness of the violation. The classification of your probation violation will depend on the specifics of the violation itself.

Are probation and parole the same thing?

Probation and parole are similar, though not identical. Probation is a court-ordered supervision prior to or instead of jail time. Parole is court-ordered supervision after early release from prison. The rules you must follow when on probation or under parole are quite similar, so the two terms are commonly – though incorrectly – used interchangeably.

Can I have a gun in my house if I’m on probation?

People on probation are generally not allowed to have weapons. This rule can create challenges if you share your home with someone who owns guns. Speak to your lawyer about what you should do in these cases, as there are ways to avoid subjecting yourself to further legal trouble.

If you’ve violated probation in South Carolina, consider speaking with one of our SC defense attorneys. Dial 803-708-6767 or use this form to get in touch.

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Barney Giese

Keith Giese