If you were charged with a criminal offence and the courts placed you on probation, you must comply with the terms of that order. If you do not, you could face serious penalties. So, if your probation officer claims you committed a violation, you need to know what you can do to protect yourself and what options you have.
Determine whether it’s a valid violation
A probation officer might claim you violated your probation because of a mistake, a poor judgement call or an oversight on their part. How might this happen?
First, according to The Ministry of the Solicitor General, there are 32,000 people supervised by 121 probation offices across Ontario daily. With so many probationers, it is entirely possible for an officer to get cases or people confused.
And relationships between probationers and officers can be incredibly strained. Stress, anger and threats of violence or harassment can occur between parties. And when the officer holds so much power, any claim they make could be taken as fact, even if it is not entirely accurate.
With this said, determining whether a breach of probation is accurate is as crucial as defending against any criminal charge.
Avoid unnecessarily harsh penalties
If you have done something that goes against the courts, know that you still have legal options and rights. Just because you may have done something wrong does not necessarily mean you are guilty of a criminal offence.
You have the option to provide a reasonable excuse. For instance, if you cannot drive, per the terms of your probation, but you did because a family member had an emergency requiring you to drive, it could be a reasonable excuse.
Another way to avoid the harshest penalties is to work with a lawyer to argue against them. Getting a warning, reduced fines or a stay of proceedings could be possible.
Whatever the breach of probation may be, it is crucial that you take these allegations seriously. Failure to do so could expose you to penalties more severe than any you might have initially been facing. Defending yourself in these situations can help you overcome these legal challenges.