A Violation of Probation (VOP) hearing may be thought of as a “mini-trial”. Whereas a person charged with a VOP may be entitled to a hearing, several significant differences exist between a VOP hearing and the rights incumbent to a criminal jury trial:
- No Jury. At a VOP hearing you are not entitled to a jury of your peers. Instead, a judge would be the decider of fact and law in determining whether you are in violation of the terms and conditions of probation.
- Standard of Proof: The standard of proof to determine whether or not you are in violation of probation is “a preponderance of the evidence”. Therefore, the probation department need not prove any fact “beyond a reasonable doubt”. The standard of proof in a VOP hearing is “lower” or easier to satisfy.
- Evidence: The rules of evidence are often lax or relaxed at a violation of probation hearing. Therefore, some evidence which may not be admissible at a Jury trial may be admitted for the purposes of a VOP hearing if the judge finds the evidence reliable.
- Timing: VOP hearings usually occur very quickly. Since you are not entitled to a jury trial the court will usually schedule your hearing within one month of your receipt of notice. It is not necessary that you be convicted of an additional crime before you are violated on probation for the crime.
See Commonwealth v. Durling, 407 Mass. 108 (1990).
Considering your Violation of Probation (VOP) hearing rights is a critical and in-depth process requiring you to practically apply the state’s evidence against your rights, your evidence and your defenses.
Know your rights. At the Law Office of Michael Patrick Murray, P.C., we provide aggressive criminal defense for people accused of violating the terms and conditions of probation. I have effectively defended the rights of clients throughout Massachusetts for 18 years.
Call me now at: (508) 393-4162.
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