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What Is a Motion to Revoke Probation?

Police officer catching a person violating their probation. Talking next to two cars. Officer is taking a statement.

A motion to revoke probation is a document that says you did something wrong while on probation. Every probation has specific terms and conditions that must be followed. In a motion to revoke probation, the courts will likely try to send you back to jail or prison.

This is the opposite of a motion to dismiss, which would mean the case goes away entirely.

What Does "Getting a Motion to Revoke Probation" Mean?

If your probation officer says any terms of your probation have been broken, then they may try to take your probation away.

To do this, they will let the District Attorney's office know what happened. This starts the motion to revoke probation process. The District Attorney will complete some paperwork and file it with the court where you had your trial. This is called the motion — it is the act of asking a judge for an order. It is the judge's order that would take your probation away, not the motion itself.

Can a Probation Officer Revoke Your Probation?

Only your probation officer can start a motion to revoke your probation. They can decide to:

  • Follow the probation revocation process
  • Handle minor issues themselves

Sometimes, small problems can be handled by your probation officer. They might extend your probation or make the terms more strict.

If there is a serious problem or you have broken probation multiple times, they may have no choice but to follow the legal process.

How Does the Motion to Revoke Probation Process Work?

The process can start in one of two ways. Either the police or someone else reports you for breaking your probation, or your probation officer catches you.

From that point:

  1. Your probation officer decides to report the violation
  2. The report goes to the District Attorney's office
  3. The District Attorney reviews the request and either dismisses the request or files a motion to revoke probation with the court
  4. A warrant for your arrest is sent to all law enforcement

At this point, you have some options. You can:

  • Turn yourself in
  • Pay the bond (if the court set one — see more below)
  • Wait for the police to find and arrest you

Once you are arrested or you pay the bond:

  1. You will receive a court date
  2. You will attend your hearing and explain your situation to a judge
  3. The judge will decide what to do. If they approve the motion to revoke, they will choose a penalty for you (like extra months of probation) or take away your probation.
  4. If the judge revokes your probation, you will return to jail or prison.

Be careful: Even after probation ends, the courts still have 60-90 days to hear about any past violations and take you to court. After the 60-90 days have ended, your probation should be fully closed, and you cannot face a motion to revoke probation.

How Do You Revoke Your Own Probation?

You have the choice to take yourself off probation. You can file a motion on your own behalf. Then, you will appear before the judge who sentenced you and:

  • Admit you cannot follow the rules of your probation
  • Ask to have your probation revoked

A judge can honor the original amount of jail time you were given, or they can send you to jail for the max amount of time possible. They can also choose to increase the fines you originally had. An attorney is your best option for getting off probation but not getting an increased sentence or fines.

Motion for Early Termination of Probation

Revoking your own probation is different than a motion for early termination of probation. You can ask for probation to end early after:

  • One year on probation
  • Half of the probation period is completed

A judge can end your probation at any time, but typically they will have you serve at least 12 to 18 months. They will also make sure all terms of your probation are met, including all fines, court costs, community service, and good behavior.

Will I Get a Bond During the Process to Revoke Probation?

Some courts will set a bond for you. This means a bondsperson can pay for you to stay out of jail. But, you will owe them the money back, and they will make sure you don't try to leave town.

Your ability to get a bond may depend on:

  • How many times you've violated probation
  • What you did to get in trouble
  • The terms of your probation

How Long Does It Take for a Motion to Revoke Someone's Probation to Go Through?

From the start of the process to the judge deciding what happens to you, it can take a few days. If the reporting or filing is over a weekend, then the case will be pending for a few days longer. If you run from the police or try to hide, then it may take longer.

An attorney can help the process go smoothly. They are there to help you get the best outcome possible in a tough situation. Your attorney can try to make the judge see that you may have messed up your second chance, but that you are trying.

What to Do If the Courts Try to Revoke Your Probation

You always have the right to an attorney. There is no chance to be found innocent or change the penalties of your case because you were already charged with the crime. But, your attorney can try to keep you on probation or reduce your time in jail or prison.

Representing yourself is very difficult in these types of cases. If you are facing a motion to revoke probation, it is helpful to get professional help as soon as you can.

Next Steps

Contact a qualified criminal lawyer to make sure your rights are protected.

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