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Violating Federal Supervised Release – Consequences From a Lawyer

By Spodek Law Group | October 20, 2023
(Last Updated On: October 20, 2023)

Last Updated on: 20th October 2023, 02:21 pm


Violating Federal Supervised Release – Consequences From a Lawyer

Hey there! As a lawyer who has defended many clients accused of violating federal supervised release, I wanted to give you the lowdown on what happens if you mess up while on supervision. I’ll walk you through the process, the potential penalties, and some tips on how to avoid violations. This stuff can get complicated real quick, so I’ll try to break it down nice and simple.

What is Supervised Release?

First things first – what is federal supervised release? Well, supervised release is kind of like parole after you serve federal prison time. Lets say you get sentenced to 5 years in prison and 3 years supervised release. You serve your 5 years locked up, then when you get out, you spend 3 years on supervision. During those 3 years, you have to follow certain rules and check in regularly with a probation officer. If you violate the rules, you could end up back in prison.

Common Supervised Release Conditions

When you start your term of supervised release, the judge sets certain conditions you have to follow. These usually include things like:

  • Not committing any new crimes
  • Avoiding drugs and alcohol
  • Reporting to your probation officer as directed
  • Not leaving the district without permission
  • Maintaining employment

There may be other special conditions too, depending on your offense. The rules vary case by case but breaking any of them could lead to a violation.

How Do Violations Happen?

Violations happen in a few main ways:

  1. New criminal charges – If you get arrested for a new crime, that will usually trigger a violation report from your probation officer.
  2. Technical violations – Things like missing appointments, failed drug tests, leaving the district without approval, etc. Your probation officer doesn’t need new criminal charges to claim you violated.
  3. Self-reporting – Sometimes people just admit to their probation officer that they messed up, like using drugs or missing curfew. Even if your P.O. doesn’t know, self-reporting it can still lead to a violation.

The main point is – there are many ways you can end up violating if you aren’t extremely careful while on supervision.

The Violation Process

Ok, so what happens once your probation officer reports a violation? Here’s a quick rundown:

  1. Your P.O. will file a petition with the court saying you violated. This will lay out the allegations against you.
  2. The court will issue a warrant for your arrest or a summons for you to appear at a hearing.
  3. You’ll appear before the judge and either admit or deny the allegations. If you deny, an evidentiary hearing is held where your P.O. has to prove the violations.
  4. If the judge finds you violated, they can either revoke your supervision and impose imprisonment, or modify the terms of supervision like extra drug testing.

The standard of proof is just a “preponderance of evidence,” much lower than a criminal trial. It’s pretty easy for the government to prove violations, so your chances of beating them at a hearing are slim. In most cases, it’s better to fess up and make a deal.

Potential Penalties

If you are found to have violated, the penalties can be severe. It all depends on the specifics of your case, your criminal history, and the judge’s discretion. But possible consequences include:

  • Prison time – The judge can revoke supervision and impose a term of imprisonment up to the statutory maximum for your original offense. So if you were convicted of a felony with a 5 year maximum, you could potentially get up to 5 years for the violation.
  • Home confinement – A step down from prison, you may be ordered on home detention for a certain period, where you have to stay in your house except for approved reasons.
  • GPS monitoring – The judge could order you to wear an ankle monitor GPS device so your probation officer can track your movements.
  • More drug testing – If you failed or missed drug tests, the judge may increase your testing requirements and make you test more frequently.
  • Curfew – A set curfew could be imposed, requiring you to be at home during certain nighttime hours.
  • Community service – For minor violations, community service hours may be ordered as an alternative punishment.

There are other possibilities too, like mandatory counseling or treatment programs. The main takeaway is – violations are taken very seriously and the consequences can ruin all the progress you’ve made during supervision.

Tips to Avoid Violations

The best way to avoid violations is to fully comply with all the conditions imposed by the judge and your probation officer. Easier said than done, I know. Here are some practical tips:

  • Always be honest with your P.O. – even if you slip up, admitting it looks better than lying.
  • Stay clean and sober – get help if you struggle with addiction.
  • Show up early for appointments – never be late.
  • Communicate about changes – if you need to travel or switch jobs, ask permission first.
  • Watch your associates – hanging around other felons can lead to trouble.
  • Read the conditions carefully – if you’re unsure about anything, ask your P.O. to clarify.

It comes down to using common sense and making smart decisions. Federal supervision is a privilege after doing prison time – don’t squander it!

Talk to a Lawyer if You’re Accused

If you do end up facing violation allegations, speak to a defense lawyer immediately. An experienced attorney can advise you on the best response and may be able to negotiate an agreement with the prosecutor to avoid the harshest penalties. Every case is different, so get individualized legal advice specific to your situation.

I hope this overview gives you a better understanding of federal supervised release and how to avoid the pain of violations. It’s a tricky system to navigate, but taking it seriously and walking the line can help you successfully complete supervision. Stay strong out there!



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