How do I avoid a VOP

There are many different types of probation & parole requirements. When you are placed on supervised or unsupervised probation by a judge in the District Court or Circuit Court, you are required to abide by standard conditions. The standard conditions usually include things such as not committing a new crime, paying all fines and court costs, not using alcohol or drugs, and working or attending school. Special conditions can include things such as attending certain types of classes, working community hours, staying away from a particular place or person and many other possibilities.

It goes without saying that as a probationer you are required to check in with your PO on a weekly or sometimes monthly basis. Your PO will sometimes come to your house and check in with you depending upon what your underlying conviction is. If it is a sex offense case you will have many more additional requirements.

The biggest flaw with people who are on probation is that they kind of feel that everything will fall into place. In other words, they think if they just simply do what they’re told to do then everything will be okay. This is completely incorrect! Many times, PO’s are overworked and really can’t remember or take note of everything they require probationers to do. Many probationers believe that if they miss an appointment it’s simply okay to call and leave a message. After all, you say to yourself, my PO will understand and is a nice person. Wrong again!

I’m not saying your PO isn’t a nice person. What I am saying is that many POs tend to protect themselves and err on the side of caution. If a PO told you not to do something, or to do something in particular and they didn’t write it down this could be an issue. Supervisors in that unit will sometimes question the POs as to why a probationer hasn’t done a particular requirement. You can bet your bottom dollar that if the PO is asked by the supervisor why something wasn’t done correctly, they will indicate to the supervisor that you were told to do so!

Request my 5 Point guide how to protect yourself on probation or parole

This is why I encourage people to start with the premise that no one remembers anything about what you’re supposed to do unless its written down. Everything has to be documented! I have created a 5 point system that assist probationers in protecting themselves in case they are violated down the road. The bottom line is that you have to acquire a calendar and every communication with the probation department must be documented. This includes every time you go to see your PO and they’re not available, use a phone to take a photograph of the system device showing that you checked in. Many POs do not want to give out a specific email to communicate with them but you should insist. Communicate strictly through email and face-to-face meetings. Everything must be documented neatly.

Parole is very similar but there are sometimes additional requirements for parolees. One of the biggest issue for parolees is when a violation occurs they are automatically arrested and usually taking down to the Diagnostic Center in Baltimore (jail) to wait until their parole violation hearing. Because of the jail housing shortages and buildings being closed in the Baltimore jail system, many parole hearings are now heard throughout the Division of Correction system.

Can I get out of jail if arrested for a violation of parole or probation?

Most judges in the Circuit Court in the State of Maryland will issue a “no bail warrant” for anyone that violates their probation. This is not necessarily across-the-board and it certainly can change depending upon the nature of the violation. If it’s something minor such as not paying court costs, then a summons may be issued. If you are under the impression that you are being violated by your probation officer it’s very important that you contact a qualified lawyer to inquire as to whether or not a motion to quash the warrant is something advised. Many times, depending upon the situation judges will in fact entertain a motion to allow a person who’s been locked up on a violation of probation to be released pending the hearing. On the other hand, there are some judges that simply won’t do that. There are alternatives to fix that situation. One of them is to simply asked the court to schedule a review hearing as quickly as possible. Many times that can occur within a couple days so the defendant is not sitting in jail for weeks or months at a time.

Parole violations are little bit more difficult and different. Yes, we very often file motions with the Maryland Parole Board to ask that a parole warrant or “retake” warrant be quashed. Many times they are quashed and a hearing date is simply set in. The nature of parole violations and what can occur is dramatically different than probation violations. With a parole violation a commissioner hears the violation and there is only several issues to be decided. The first, is whether or not the parolee did in fact violate his parole. The 2nd is whether or not any diminution credits should be withheld. There are alternatives as to how these matters can be minimized.

Can a Defendant be on parole and probation at the same time

I see this all the time when an individual is released from the division of corrections and they are placed on parole as well as probation at the same time. You have to remember that there are several different types of parole. One of them involves a “mandatory release date”. Another, is simply a parolee making parole for a variety of reasons.When a individual is released from the division of corrections and placed on parole, many times the judge that placed them on supervised probation after the release expects them to be on probation at the same time. There are and can be many problems with that situation. Despite the fact that you may report to and see the same PO for probation and parole, the fact is that the two can sometimes conflict placing the defendant in a situation that could cause irreparable harm. From a legal standpoint I believe that it is improper for probation to normally begin before parole has expired. On many occasions we have made legal arguments to judges regarding probation violations and have a judge agreed with us that the defendant is really not even on probation at the time of the alleged offense (VOP) because he was still on parole. Obviously, each situation varies.

By Jim Crawford

(443) 709-9999