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What happens if you violate probation in Tennessee?

Being on probation does not mean you have it easy. A relaxed attitude can lead to intentional or unintentional violation, which can come with more severe penalties than you may think.

Understanding the conditions of your probation and the consequences of failing to comply with them is the first step in avoiding a violation. If a violation still occurs, then you need to speak with an attorney to minimize penalties or try to overcome the charges.

Common probation requirements

The terms of your probation will depend on your specific case, but generally speaking, requirements can include:

  • Regularly contacting your probation officer
  • Completing programs and community service
  • Not using firearms, alcohol or drugs
  • Staying within a geographical location and away from certain people and places
  • Paying fines
  • Making court appearances
  • Obeying even the most minor laws

You will need to do these things for the entire length of your probation period. If you fail to comply with the terms of your probation, you could go to jail or prison.

Penalties for violating probation

If you fail to do any of your duties, you will face a probation violation charge. The worst-case scenario is the judge will have you complete the original sentence you received. Other possible punishments include a longer probation period, a shorter  sentence, fines, more terms to your probation or a community-based alternative to prison time. Which penalty you receive will depend on the following factors:

  • How severe was the violation?
  • Did you commit a crime?
  • Was this your first probation violation? 
  • How many violations did you commit this probation?

The judge will take all the circumstances into account in deciding if you are guilty of a violation and, if so, what the consequences will be. Note that the prosecution does not need to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, as in a criminal trial. In this case, the burden of proof only needs to exceed 50 percent in pointing to your guilt.

Depending on the circumstances of the case, there may be a viable defense to a probation violation charge. An experienced criminal defense attorney can review your situation and explain your legal options.

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