Michigan Probation Violation
VOP Hearing in Michigan
The answer to this question varies depending upon the charge you're on probation for, which prosecutor's office charged you, and the judge. Some may be surprised that the prosecutor may not even be at your probation violation, which limits their ability to participate.
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If the prosecutor is present, they likely haven't thought about your case beyond "well if you violate probation, there should be punishment". This could mean losing a "dismissal deal" you may have worked out as part of your plea deal, and it could mean going to jail for showing you're not a candidate for probation.
If the charge is a felony, or a violent misdemeanor/DUI type case, it's more likely the prosecutor will push for a tougher probation violation sentence, especially if they had previously supported a "second chance" to keep the matter off of your record.
As a former prosecutor, I was in this position many times; it was black and white. In sum "hey this criminal over there got a sweet deal round one, now they are back and in trouble again on their case, THROW THE BOOK AT THEM!". I didn't think this way because I'm a mean person who had a personal issue with the person charged, it was how I was trained; be skeptical at all times of the person charged with a crime, protect the community.
There's a time and place for tough justice as a prosecutor, but there should be even more room for understanding the case at a deeper level and working toward a reasonable and equitable solution. Should a 20 year old have a criminal record their entire life because they tested positive for marijuana while on probation? No, that is not an equitable outcome.
If I am working with a client who is going to court on a probation violation, we get out ahead of the issue, and put extra measures into place, we may voluntarily up the testing, up the counseling, begin extra community service hours. We want to go to court with the "punishment" in progress. Show we get it, and we already took major steps to address it. The worst thing to do is walk into court having done nothing, and simply keeping your fingers crossed to keep a clean record and not go to jail.
Many times even with these extra steps, the prosecutor and judge want to make a drastic move such as tearing up the plea deal or sending my client to jail. This is where we may adjourn out the violation to see if we can make some progress. Example being, judge let's up the testing 3x per week from the original 1x, let's allow them to continue counseling, and let's come back in 60 days with all clean tests. Sound fair?
You may not get your way round one, but if you can get everyone to keep an open mind about the situation, you at least buy your client another shot to comply.
The New Rules of Michigan Criminal Defense can be applied to many situations.
If faced with a probation violation in Michigan, are you ready to compete? I don't mean denying you did anything wrong or fighting the allegations simply because you're worried about the consequences. The worst approach to a probation violation when you've actually violated is to deny you did anything wrong; there is no good outcome to deny; the judge will just find you in violation and the outcome will be worse.
You can take a growth mindset and learn from the situation; take responsibility for your actions and get yourself out of the box; the box you find yourself in is denial and fear of what happens if you're found in violation; you need to change the culture of your violation and bring complex change.
This is not easy, and you must identify all stakeholders and shareholders in your case; a balance sheet must be created of your liabilities, equity and the assets (if you wish to adopt the time value of money and the client value chain)
Each probation violation is different and requires its own approach, but there is a way to tackle a probation violation in a strategic way; any lawyer who advises to fight it just to fight it is setting his client up for failure; this would be like running into the battle field against a full army without a plan or the proper tools or weapons.
All assets must be measured and shared with the judge and the probation department; with the right approach, it's very likely we can rebrand the violation, and turn a negative into an additional growth opportunity and look to avoid some of the worse consequences of a VOP allegation and violation.
If you've violated probation, don't run from it! Embrace it and have a plan; the stakeholders in your case are ready to work with you if you approach the matter with a growth mindset and avoid the fixed mindset.