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Preparing for a South Carolina Probation Violation Hearing

Preparing for a South Carolina Probation Violation Hearing

In South Carolina, if you have been sentenced to probation it means that some or all of your original prison sentence was suspended.  This means that as long as you remain compliant with probation you are allowed to remain free, but if you violate you may be sentenced to jail or prison to serve the remaining time. The term of this is having your probation revoked.

You can violate your probation in a number of ways. This can include:

  • Failing to report as instructed
  • Failing to update probation on your address
  • Leaving the state without permission
  • Failing to pay fees and costs
  • Testing positive for drugs
  • Obtaining a new criminal charge

What happens at a probation violation hearing?

There are two types of probation violation hearings. Administrative hearings, or those held in court. This information applies to hearings held in court.

At the hearing, you and your lawyer will appear before a General Sessions judge. This may or may not be the same judge that originally sentenced you. The judge will review the documents prepared by your probation agent regarding the violation and will also listen to what the probation agent has to say. If your original case involved a victim, such as in an assault case, they will also be notified of your violation hearing. The judge will also give them a chance to speak. 

The judge will next ask you and your lawyer if you agree that there was a violation. If you’re innocent of the violation your lawyer will have a chance to present evidence to the court. However, even if you admit to the violation your lawyer can still offer an explanation and present evidence in an attempt to lessen the sanction the court might impose.

In some situations, especially involving contested facts leading up to the violation, it might be necessary for either side to call witnesses and present other evidence. The judge will make the decision as to whether or not your probation is violated and if so, what punishment should be imposed.

Possible Outcomes for a Violation Hearing

There are several possible outcomes for a probation violation hearing. These include:

  • A finding that the terms of probation were not violated
  • Required drug treatment or mental health treatments
  • An order terminating any remaining balance of probation
  • Converting any unpaid fines or fees to a civil judgment
  • Weekend, jail, or a prison sentence
  • Full revocation of probation

How to prepare

It’s important to prepare for your probation violation hearing. You don’t simply want to “show up” and hope for the best. Here are some helpful tips:

  • If there’s anything you can bring into compliance, do it. Catch up on past-due fees. Get back in any required courses. Whatever you can do, do it.
  • Follow your agent’s instructions to a “T”
  • Hire a lawyer as soon as possible. Give them complete, total information about your situation.
  • Be prepared to take a drug test anytime. Either at the request of your probation agent, the court, or your lawyer.
  • Don’t assume your situation is hopeless. There are things almost anyone can do to improve their standing with their probation agent or the court.

Contact us to prepare for your hearing

We have experience in representing individuals facing probation violations. Although there’s never a “magic wand”, we’ve seen numerous examples where following our advice & recommendations has provided real benefits to our clients facing difficult probation violations. In addition to helping you prepare, we also are experienced in advocating for our clients in the actual courtroom, where their freedom is on the line. Contact us today for a no-obligation consultation.


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