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Violating your probation, even on accident, can result in jail

You were charged with a serious crime. After you entered a guilty plea or got convicted, you were fortunate enough to receive probation in lieu of prison time. While knowing you have a criminal record can be sobering and humbling, you likely feel fortunate that you've received a second chance. You want to follow the terms of your probation and move on with your life. Unfortunately, something goes awry.

Probation violations can vary. Perhaps you tried to break up a fight in your neighborhood or on your way home from work. You were being a good neighbor, but you still ended up in trouble when police came. Maybe you had no idea that your roommate was doing drugs until he got arrested, and you ended up getting accused of violating your probation by living with him. It's possible you just bumped into an old friend, who has a felony record. Whatever happened, you need to be proactive in your approach or a simple misunderstanding could cost you your freedom.

Probation terms are strict

In order to facilitate good decision making and public safety, those on probation are closely monitored by a probation officer. Their homes are subject to search. Probation officers may even visit their work to ensure they have the job they claim. In general, people on probation must keep a permanent residence and work a job. These conditions, of course, ignore how much harder it can be to get and keep a job after a criminal conviction.

Tennessee also has rules that state the person on probation may not drink to excess, be present where a crime is committed or change addresses without providing 10-day notice to the probation officer. Mistakes do happen, as do social fallouts between roommates. A simple argument about chores could ultimately end with your needing to move immediately and unintentionally violating your probation.

Probation violations can mean serving your full sentence

If the courts decide that your probation violation was a serious matter, you could end up in jail, completing the full sentence you had originally avoided. That's why it is so important to know and understand the terms of your probation. Ideally, you work with your probation officer to build a positive and trusting relationship. That way, if something unusual happens that could result in a violation, your probation officer may be willing to work with you.

If the violation gets reported to the courts, you could end up facing a judge again. The judge could decide to impose your original sentence because of the alleged violation. Preparing for that moment can make a major difference in the outcome of the process for you. You should do your best to avoid violating your probation, but you also need to be ready to defend yourself in the event of a violation.

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