What Happens When You Violate Probation?

Last Updated on May 11, 2022 by Fair Punishment Team

Courts issue probationary periods to offenders in lieu or addition to fines and prison or jail time. Probation essentially allows you to serve your sentence while still being within normal society.

Probation works on the basis that you do not reoffend although commonly the stipulations of the probationary period will depend on your specific case. Violating probation can be a serious legal issue and can result in a much more severe sentence if you violate your specific conditions.

How Can You Violate Your Probation?

Simply because an offender is on probation does not mean that they are a free citizen. They commonly have to report to a probation officer as well as adhering to their case’s strict and specific conditions. These conditions protect both  the community and prevent the offender from reoffending.

Here are some common stipulations and conditions that courts may require of an offender while on probation:

Probation Reporting – Essentially, you are expected to meet regularly with a probation officer. These officers will monitor your progress during probation and, if they choose to, can report you to the court for violation if they believe you are at risk of reoffending. If you don’t turn up to these meetings you will likely be violating your probation conditions.

Drug Testing – Many courts will require drug testing and this is very common with those whose charges are related to or involve the use or sale of drugs. In North America, this could even include legal drugs like Marijuana and potentially even Alcohol. Failure to pass a drug test would be a clear violation of your probation.

Employment – It is pretty typical of courts to require their offender to take up some form of employment during their probation period. This could be to help with restitution costs ro can simply be to keep the offender out of trouble and involved in a good routine.

In many cases, your employment is part of your commitment to give back to society you committed crimes against. Not turning up for employment, or constantly being late, etc, can result in violation of your probation. 

Community Service – Community Service is a common form of probation where an offender’s sentence is waived when they put in a certain amount of hours serving their community. This is often reserved for those offenders who have committed relatively low level crimes. Not turning up for community service will violate your probation.

Restitution – In smaller cases where money is involved or specific harm was caused to the plaintiff, the court will order specific restitution to be made. This could be in the form of money or even tasks when small disputes are settled in court.

This period of restitution is still considered probation and if the tasks or money are not repaid to the plaintiff then further charges could accrue due to violation of your probation.

Avoiding Criminal Involvement – Unsurprisingly, the courts often order those involved in crime to avoid and remain clear of other criminal involvement. This can often be the worst violation of probation, to reoffend during a probation period.

What often happens in this event is that the original charges remain and the new charges are worsened as a result of your bad relationship with the courts through violating probation. 

What Happens When You Violate Your Probation?

Violating your probation is serious, and if you accrue a bad relationship with the courts then they will hold nothing back when deciding upon your punishment. Even in smaller cases, if you violate your probation and commit another crime in the future, that future crime will be seen much more harshly.


If you violate your probation it is extremely likely that your probation period will be revoked by the courts and you will be sentenced again with more severe punishment. This is usually decided within a revocation hearing.

The offender has the right to call witnesses, present evidence, and be represented by an attorney during a revocation hearing; this can allow the courts to decide if the violation was significant and intentional.

However, the standard of proof is much lower in a revocation hearing, if the court even thinks it is likely that you have committed a violation then they can still revoke your probation. Commonly, there are no juries, only a judge.

The Nature Of The Violation

In this revocation hearing it is the nature of the violation that is in question. For example, if you miss a probation meeting because your car broke down, or you can prove there was a reason why you missed it, this will not result in an immediate revocation. You have the chance to defend yourself. 

However, another situation may be that you nearly committed a violation but didn’t, this could be cause for concern and you could have probational rights revoked depending on the nature of the violation.

In specific circumstances the court may extend your period of probation as a punishment for violation, or intent to violate. In some cases, family members or friends will report an offender to their probationary officer before they have the chance to reoffend.

If you simply miss out on meetings or drug tests because you don’t want to go, or you want to do something else, your probation will likely be revoked.

Penalty For Revocation

If your probation is revoked you will be given another sentence, this sentence will likely be a reinstating of the original sentence that was waived for probation as well as additional fines, and or sentences that are more severe. 

As mentioned, your rapport and relationship with the courts will decrease significantly if you violate probation. Essentially, the court has waived your sentence in place of probationary conditions, so if you violate them the court will be concerned about letting you back into their community. It also means future dealings with the courts will be shadowed by this.

If you fear you may have violated you probation, but feel it is unintentional, or simply want representation, you should definitely get in touch with your attorney and lawyer up.