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What is a Technical Violation of Probation in Maryland?

Probation

Maryland law is in a constant state of flux, with laws always being written, changed, amended, or repealed. One big change came last year on October 1, 2017. A new rule was passed allowing for the sentencing of offenders who violate probation on technical grounds. These are commonly known as technical violations. If you’ve been charged with violating probation, reach out to an attorney today to get help.

What is a Rule 4 Violation?

Most people would probably agree that if you break the law, you need to be punished. This is no different for people on probation. After all, probation means you already broke the law once, so breaking it again should be punishable. Section 4-347 of the Maryland Revised Statutes provides for sentencing and revocation of probation for the commission of new crimes. These are often called “Rule 4 violations.” There is no discretion in these cases. If you are on probation, and a police officer catches you breaking the law, then you will be arrested and your probation will almost certainly be revoked.

What is a Technical Violation? 

Actual Rule 4 violations are fairly uncommon when you put things in perspective. In fact, less than half of all probation violations are due to the commission of a new crime. Nationally, the problem is even more pronounced, with one report from the Marshall Project suggesting as many as 61,000 people are incarcerated around the country, solely because of minor parole violations or technical probation violations.

A technical violation happens when the offender violates a term or condition of probation, which does not actually involve a crime. Here are some examples that are commonly violated:

  • Testing positive for drugs or alcohol
  • Missing an appointment
  • Showing up late to an appointment
  • Failing to complete substance abuse treatment
  • Failing to do community service
  • Not paying restitution to victims
  • Failing to complete anger management classes
  • Not paying all your court fines or costs on time

New Law Max Penalties 

Probation officers have the ability to work with you and hold off reporting minor violations. Unfortunately, some probation officers can be overzealous and report even the tiniest violations. Under the new law, a person charged with a technical violation will face the max sentence under the law. This means:

  • First Offense           15 days jail
  • Second Offense           30 days jail
  • Third Offense          45 days jail

The bad news is, you get jail time for a minor violation that would not otherwise even be a crime. The good news is judges are limited in what they can do to you. In very rare cases, judges may revoke probation where the public is placed in danger by your conduct. 

When charged, the clerk must set a timely hearing. Unfortunately, in some courts around the state, defendants wait months for a hearing due to backlogs.

Get Help With Your Probation Violation Case

If you are charged with violating probation, contact the Law Offices of Todd K. Mohink, P.A. today to discuss your situation. You may have options for avoiding jail time or getting the violation dismissed. But time is of the essence. Don’t sit in jail for weeks or months waiting to argue your case. An experienced criminal defense attorney can often file a motion seeking your release pending hearing. Whatever you do, don’t talk to prosecutors without first speaking with an attorney.

Resources:

govt.westlaw.com/mdc/Document/ND4EE02D09CEA11DB9BCF9DAC28345A2A?transitionType=Default&contextData=(sc.Default)

themarshallproject.org/2017/04/23/at-least-61-000-nationwide-are-in-prison-for-minor-parole-violations

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