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A Criminal Defense Law Firm

Illegal Consequences to Misdemeanor Probation Violations

For my second blog entry, I would like to discuss the topic of probation. In Georgia, there are currently over 158,255 people on some sort of probation, which is roughly 1 out of every 62 people!

Recently, a Georgia Supreme Court ruling stated that state law does not allow misdemeanor probation sentences to be put on hold if a probationer stops reporting. For the thousands of people accused of “disappearing” before the end of their probation stint, they will no longer face arrest. Many are being freed from jail as well!

Before, it was common for the courts to issue arrest warrants for those who had failed to report, as well as pause and then restart their probation sentences. The decision to overturn this issue began after 13 individuals filed a lawsuit against Sentinel Offenders Services. The argument was that the incentive of private companies to make money gets in the way of due process that is mandated by the court system. http://www.wgxa.tv/news/local/Georgia-Supreme-Court-Ruling-Changes-Probation-Rules–284925341.html

Scott himself has handled a similar case. In this particular case, a client received 12 months of probation for driving without a license and disorderly conduct. Around 105 days before the end of his sentence, the client discontinued reporting for probation. Soon after, a warrant was placed out for his arrest, his license was also suspended. Eventually, he was apprehended in traffic and was charged with driving with a suspended license, giving false name, and possession of drugs. Subsequently, the client racked up $2,255 dollars in fines on the new charges alone.

With the help of Scott, he was able to get the “giving false name” charge dropped, which saved the client $526! Scott’s client also received a Petition for the Modification/Revocation of his probation because he stopped reporting. Scott noticed that the 12-month period for his probation was over, therefore he was no longer on probation.

As you can see, it is very important to hire a knowledgeable attorney with experience. They can help your case out immensely as well as making your life (and financial situation) much easier.

In the “Daily Report” newspaper on April 14th 2015, it discusses the same issue. The article begins with a man named Adel Edwards, who pleaded guilty to burning leaves in his yard without a permit. He was fined $500 dollars, as well as placed on probation for 12 months. The judge directed him to contact Red Hills personnel, who charged him an extra $528 in fees and expected a $250 payment before he was able to leave!
Due to a debilitating mental illness, Edwards was unable to pay the fine. Subsequently, he was put in jail for several days. Before the court appearance, Edwards was never notified that he would be required to make a payment.

Edwards isn’t the only one dealing with this issue, 5 people (including Edwards) have filed a class-action lawsuit against Red Hills Probation, as well as the cities of Pelham and Bainbridge, claiming they are “illegally detaining indigent defendants sentenced to probation to coerce them into borrowing money from friends or family to buy their way out of jail.”

The suit also accuses Red Hills probation officers of “defrauding defendants who have completed their probation but still owe a portion of their fines or fees.” In every case, the probation officer also threatened to jail the plaintiffs if they did not pay up.

Last month, DeKalb County was sued after a defendant was thrown in jail for 5 days because he was unable to pay $868 in fines for a traffic ticket within 30 days of his sentencing. DeKalb agreed to pay teenager Kevin Thompson $70,000 as well as adopt new policies toward indigent misdemeanor defendants as a part of the settlement.

Are you on probation for a misdemeanor? Maybe you shouldn’t be on probation. Was your misdemeanor probation tolled (Which means that your probation sentence was/is put on pause or restarted)? Maybe it shouldn’t have. If you feel as though this affects you, call us! This issue could be settled by a simple call. (770) 795-7751

One Response to “Illegal Consequences to Misdemeanor Probation Violations”

  1. Tiffany williams says:

    My mom was on probation until she pay her fine. The fine was about 3000 and she paid it allexcept 500 and she had 2 days left on probation. We became homeless and had to stay at hotels. She is on ssi. Now it have been 2 years and she have a warrant for probation violation what can she do.

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