If you’re on probation, you know that you have to do everything you can to abide by the law. If you violate the terms of probation, you could end up back in court and be sent to jail, fined or face other penalties.

The reality is that your freedom is at stake as a probationer, so violating probation is a major risk. Still, the court won’t automatically revoke probation without just cause, and you will get a chance to explain yourself and the situation. For example, if you’re supposed to stay within the state but your son or daughter was hospitalized just outside the state lines, it may be reasonable that you violated the terms of your probation, at least for a short time.

How does the court revoke probation?

The courts have to provide you with due process, just like with your initial case. It’s at the court’s discretion to revoke or not revoke your probation, so you should prepare a case in your defense if you have to go to a hearing.

Initially, the court will provide you with information on the proposed revocation of probation. The court does have to schedule a hearing. You can testify when you’re there, and you have a right to bring witnesses and to speak with witnesses that are against you.

The prosecution needs to show that you violated a term or condition of probation. The good news is that, even if the prosecution does prove you violated probation, it doesn’t mean you’ll have to go to jail. Instead, the judge can make a decision based on the facts of the case and penalize you accordingly.

Here’s an example. If you violated probation for a good cause, the judge could add extra length to the probation or simply fine you without extending probation. You might be ordered to go to counseling or asked to go to a treatment program. Some judges may ask you to spend a short time in jail as a penalty, or others may not penalize you at all because of the circumstances of your case. You have a right to appeal any conviction. If you win, the conviction is dismissed.

Any time you need to fight for your freedom, remember that good supporting evidence and a strong defense will help. The right choices in defense make a difference, especially if you’re facing the revocation of your probation.