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Probation Revocations: When Paper Goes Up in Flames


Probation is an alternative or an addition to a term of imprisonment in county jail or state prison. Probation comes with conditions that can be tailored uniquely to your case. Common probation conditions include abstaining from drugs and alcohol, regularly reporting to the probation office, notifying probation of any changes in address and telephone numbers, and abstaining from the commission of new criminal offenses. Failure to comply with these terms can lead to a revocation of probation and a resentencing on the original offense.

Probation revocation hearings are referred to as Gagnon hearings. These hearings are named after the landmark US Supreme Court case Gagnon v Scarpelli, which mandated due process requirements for probation revocation. This requires a hearing prior to the revocation of probation based on violations of terms of probation. There are two parts to a Gagnon hearing, aptly named Gagnon I and Gagnon II. The Gagnon 1 hearing is somewhat of a preliminary hearing where the charges are identified and Gagnon II is where it is determined whether a violation has occurred and whether the violation indicates that probation has proven to be an effective vehicle to accomplish rehabilitation or not. The burden of proof is lower in a Gagnon II hearing than it is in a criminal trial. The Commonwealth need only prove a violation of probation by a preponderance of the evidence, meaning that it is more likely than not that a violation occurred.

Perhaps the most shocking thing to those accused of a violation of probation is the potential sentence they may receive at the time of resentencing. In an initial sentencing on a criminal cases, most sentences fall within what is called the standard range, which factors in your prior record. On resentencing upon a revocation of probation, however, you may receive any sentence up to the statutory maximum for the offense! For example, someone convicted of a Felony 3 Retail Theft who originally received a term of probation and violates can potentially upon resentencing receive a term of imprisonment up to 7 years!

Gagnon hearings can happen at a much more rapid pace than an original criminal case. Therefore there is no time to delay in hiring a competent attorney to represent you. Attorney Frank Walker is available on short notice to represent those accused of violations of probation and parole, as well as any other criminal case representation that may be necessary. Call to schedule an appointment at 412-532-6805. Our phones are answered 24/7 to better serve you.

Attorney Frank Walker of Frank Walker Law is a National Top 100 Criminal Defense Lawyer and Personal Injury Attorney with offices in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania and Morgantown West Virginia. Attorney Walker is also a member of the National College for DUI Defense and qualified as a Pennsylvania Death Penalty Defense Attorney.

If you or someone you love are facing criminal charges or seriously injured in an accident in WV or PA, contact Attorney Frank Walker immediately at 412-532-6805, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for aggressive and experienced Criminal Defense or Representation in a Civil Case.