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The Spodek Law Group understands how delicate high-profile cases can be, and has a strong track record of getting positive outcomes. Our lawyers service a clientele that is nationwide. With offices in both LA and NYC, and cases all across the country - Spodek Law Group is a top tier law firm.

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What Happens if You Violate Federal Probation or Supervised Release?

By Spodek Law Group | October 19, 2023
(Last Updated On: October 20, 2023)

Last Updated on: 20th October 2023, 09:30 am


What Happens if You Violate Federal Probation or Supervised Release?

Being placed on federal probation or supervised release comes with many rules and conditions you have to follow. But what happens if you mess up and violate those conditions? Let’s break it down.

Probation vs. Supervised Release

First, we gotta understand the difference between probation and supervised release. Probation is when a judge sentences you to a period of community supervision instead of jail or prison time. Supervised release is when you get out of prison but still have to follow certain rules and check in with a probation officer periodically. Both have conditions you gotta follow, like submitting to drug tests, completing counseling, sticking to a curfew, etc. Mess up and you violate.

How Violations Happen

There’s two main ways you can violate probation or supervised release:

  • New criminal conviction – If you get arrested and convicted for a new crime, that’s an automatic violation.
  • Non-compliance – This covers everything else like failing a drug test, missing counseling appointments, ignoring curfew, leaving the district without permission, etc. Even minor slip-ups count.

Sometimes violations are intentional, but a lot of times it’s just people struggling with addiction or mental health issues. Either way, the consequences can be severe if you don’t take it seriously.

Reporting Violations

Your probation officer is who keeps tabs on whether you’re following the rules or not. If they suspect a violation, they’ll notify the court and recommend how to address it. The types of sanctions they can propose include:

  • Verbal or written warning
  • Increased drug testing or supervision
  • Curfew restrictions
  • House arrest
  • More counseling
  • Up to 60 days in jail

For minor infractions, your probation officer might just give you a warning or tighten up your supervision. But if you repeatedly violate or commit a serious breach, that’s when they’ll recommend revocation and prison time.

Revocation Hearings

If it’s looking like jail time is on the table, the court will hold a revocation hearing. This is an informal proceeding where the judge reviews the alleged violations. You can admit guilt and waive the hearing, or contest the violations and make your case. The burden of proof is lower than a criminal trial – the judge just needs “reasonable grounds” you violated your terms.

If the judge decides revocation is warranted, they’ll impose a penalty based on the federal sentencing guidelines. For probation, you can get up to 5 years in prison. For supervised release, you can get up to the full original term – like if you had a 5 year supervision term, you could now get up to 5 more years in prison.

Factors Considered

When deciding an appropriate revocation sentence, the judge will consider things like:

  • The seriousness of the violation – criminal vs. technical
  • Your criminal history
  • Any mitigating circumstances
  • The original sentence you received
  • Time already served on supervision
  • Deterrence and public safety

They have to balance punishment for non-compliance with giving you a chance at rehabilitation. But public safety is the #1 priority.

Violation Defense Strategy

If you’re facing a revocation hearing, having an experienced federal criminal defense lawyer is crucial. Some strategies they may use include:

  • Argue the violation allegations are false or mistaken
  • Provide mitigating circumstances like addiction issues
  • Advocate for in-patient treatment instead of prison
  • Negotiate with the prosecution for an agreed sanction
  • Present character witnesses and compliance evidence
  • Argue for concurrent rather than consecutive sentences

The right defense can demonstrate you’re still a good candidate for community supervision if given the chance. But you have to take it seriously and comply going forward.


  • Probation and supervised release have strict conditions you must follow
  • Even minor violations can lead to sanctions or revocation
  • Revocation can mean years in federal prison
  • Hire an experienced lawyer if facing a hearing
  • Your defense strategy matters – compliance is key

The bottom line is violating probation or supervised release puts your freedom at risk. Tread carefully, get help if you need it, and lean on your lawyer to mitigate the damage if you slip up.

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I was searching for a law firm with some power to help me deal with a warrant in New York . After 6 days I decided to go with Spodek Law Group. It helped that This law firm is well respected by not only the top law firms in New York , but the DA , Judge as well. I...

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It was my good fortune to retain Spodek Law Group for representation for my legal needs. From the beginning, communication was prompt and thorough. Todd, Kenneth and Alex were the first people I worked with and they all made me, and my company Qumana skincare feel comfortable and confident that the team was going to work hard for me. Everything...

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