Home Law Facts How many times can you violate probation?

How many times can you violate probation?

How many times can you violate probation

If you’re facing probation or already under one, it is prudent to know that you’re walking on thin ice and could face going to prison if you violate the terms of your probation.

Due to the dire consequences, it’s important to also know how many times can you violate probation, what violations carry the least or drastic punishment and have the answers to other relevant questions to keep you informed and on the right side of the law. This article is all you’ll need so keep reading to know more.

What is probation?

What is probation

Probation is one of the alternatives to custodial sentencing that is available to judges, in which a person found guilty of a crime is made to serve in the community, in addition to other restrictions instead of serving a prison term. Probation comes with conditions.

A person on probation is put under strict watch and must stay away from committing another crime or violating the conditions of the probation to avoid being sent to prison.

Conditions of probation

Probationers are expected to agree to follow a list of behavioral, movement and other restrictions which make up the conditions of the probation. Violating these condition can see the probation revoked and the probationer made to face prison time.

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Typically, the following conditions of probation apply:

  • Be law abiding,
  • report to your probation officer as directed,
  • report change of address,
  • no substance and arms possession or use,
  • pay all court fees, fines and restitution,
  • be employed, in school or training in a vocation.

There are other case-specific probation conditions that a court can order if it finds so necessary for the protection of the public or the facilitation of the rehabilitation process of the probationer. These can include:

  • Travel restrictions
  • Submit to GPS ankle monitor
  • Submit to regular substance and alcohol testing
  • Attend and complete anger management, and other classes as ordered by the court,
  • Complete community service
  • Ignition Interlock Devices installation in car (DUI convictions)
  • Submit to a search condition (Searches without warrant and probable cause)

Types of probation violations

There are two basic types of probation violation which can result in a probationer facing consequences. They are:

1. Technical Violation

A technical violation of probation involves a breach of the conditions of the probation. For example, a probationer tests positive for substance contrary to the probation condition which forbids him/her from substance use or possession. This constitutes a technical violation.

2. Substantive violation

A substantive probation violation on the other hand, involves the commission of another crime other than the one for which you’re on probation for. When such a violation occurs, a probationer faces the sentence for the crime committed in addition to prison time for the conviction which resulted in the probation.

An example is a probationer arrested for theft. Such a person will face the penalty for the crime of theft and since the probation has been violated, also face the original prison time for the offense for which they were on probation.

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How many times can you violate probation?

How many times can you violate probation

Violating probation even once can result in dire consequences, the degree however, depends on the severity of the violation. For low level probation violations like failing a substance test, breaking curfew, not reporting to your probation officer among others, first and second time violations hardly result in prison time but the consequences can include:

  • even tighter restrictions,
  • extra community hours,
  • a few days in county jail,
  • house arrest, and
  • other appropriate penalties

For medium to high level violations, violating probation once is all that is required for you to face jail time. Breaking house arrest and a third low level probation violation are examples of medium level violations.

Punishment for violating probation

If you violate probation, there are three possible outcomes that a probationer may face by the court. These include:

1. Leniency

A judge may decide to be lenient upon accessing the nature of your probation violation. This can be the case if your violation was low level. In such a case, you will be allowed to continue with the existing probation conditions without any adjustments or penalties.

2. Adjustment of probation conditions

A second option available to a judge upon probation violation, is to impose even tighter restrictions. Such tighter restrictions can include more frequent substance tests, house arrest, curfew, increase in probation period and community service hours.

3. Prison time

Probation violation holding time

In more serious violations, a judge can decide to revoke the probation and let probationer serve the original prison sentence for the crime they committed. Another variation could be sending the probationer away to spend some days in county jail and let them continue with the probation after their release.

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What happens if you violate felony probation?

Depending on the nature of the probation violation, a judge can choose to give you a pass and let you continue the felony probation without punishment, impose harsher conditions or revoke the probation so you go to prison to serve your sentence.

What happens when you violate probation for the second time?

Repeat violations of probation exposes you to harsher penalties, the worst of which can see your probation revoked and have you face prison time.

Can you violate probation and not go to jail?

Can you violate probation without going to jail

Yes, it is possible that a probation violation will not end you in jail, especially for low level, first time violations. However, the decision lies with the judge. The judge can decide to be lenient and give you a second chance, impose harsher restrictions or decide to revoke the probation and send you to prison.


In answering the question “How many times can you violate probation?”, we have come to know that even a first time violation can end in detrimental penalties for a probationer. However, in low-level violations, a judge may decide to be lenient or impose a few tighter conditions to the probation.

Probationers must therefore be careful not to violate the conditions of their probation since among other penalties, they could have their probation revoked and the original prison term imposed.

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