Probation in Indiana: Laws, Conditions, Violations, and Penalties
Under certain circumstances, a person convicted of a crime in Indiana can have their sentence suspended and be ordered to serve a period of probation. Typically, judges or prosecutors will offer probation to offenders whose crimes don’t warrant jail time and who they feel may be better served completing probation under the supervision of the court. In some cases, a judge or prosecutor may also require that the offender complete mandatory counseling or another similar program, in addition to being placed on probation in Indiana.
While Indiana probation is certainly preferable to incarceration, the terms of probation are strict and require consistent compliance. If you’re worried about Indiana probation violation consequences, or have a concern about the requirements of your probation, then you should speak with an Indiana criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. You have a lot at stake and if found guilty of a probation violation, you could find yourself finishing your criminal sentence in jail. To speak with an Indianapolis attorney today, call Keffer Hirschauer LLP at 317-751-7186 or complete our online contact form to schedule a free case consultation.
What are the Laws on Probation in Indiana?
When someone is convicted of a low-level, non-violent crime in Indiana, they’re often given a suspended sentence and ordered to complete a period of probation, under the supervision of the court. This allows the State to monitor the offender and place upon them a set of strict requirements aimed at keeping them out of trouble and, in many cases, rehabilitating them in the process. The laws governing probation in Indiana are located in Indiana Code 35-38-2, and as stated in the first section of this chapter, upon placing a person on probation, the court must specify and provide the person with a list of probation conditions and the possible consequences they may face if found in violation of those conditions. Furthermore, the law states that if the person is found in violation of probation during their probationary period, a petition to revoke their probation can be filed. This can be done either one year following the termination of their probation or 45 days after the state has been made aware of the violation, whichever occurs first.
What are the Conditions of Probation?
It’s quite common for people ordered to serve probation to feel like they are “free.” While it’s certainly better than being incarcerated, it’s important to remember that you’re not truly free. Whenever someone is sentenced to probation in Indiana, they must abide by certain conditions imposed upon them by the court. These conditions can be found in Indiana Code 35-38-2-2.3, as well as some of the following sections. The full list of conditions is quite large, but some of the most common conditions include, but are not limited to:
- Report to a probation officer at reasonable times as directed by the court or the probation officer
- Work faithfully at suitable employment
- Faithfully pursue a course of study, or career/technical education.
- Attend or reside in a facility established for the instruction, recreation, or residence of persons on probation
- Support the person’s dependents and meet other family responsibilities
- Refrain from possessing a firearm or other deadly weapon unless granted written permission by the court or the person’s probation officer
- Permit the person’s probation officer to visit the person at reasonable times at the person’s home or elsewhere
- Perform uncompensated work that benefits the community
- Periodically undergo a laboratory chemical test or series of chemical tests as specified by the court to detect and confirm the presence of a controlled substance
- Receive addiction or mental health counseling; inpatient detoxification; or medication-assisted treatment, including an FDA-approved long-acting, nonaddictive medication for the treatment of opioid or alcohol dependence
Additional Probation Conditions
It should be noted that certain offenses such as sex crimes, stalking, and abuse of animals, require an offender to comply with other specific conditions of probation, each of which are intended to protect victims and the public. They may be aimed at helping prevent the offender from reoffending.
Finally, anyone placed on probation in Indiana is required to pay fees associated with probation, which includes both an initial fee and a monthly fee. In some cases, probationers may be ordered to pay other costs as well, such as those associated with prior incarceration or drug testing.
What Happens When Someone Violates Probation in Indiana?
When you’ve been put on probation, the probation department will monitor you for any potential violations. If they believe you’ve violated a condition of your probation, they will file a petition in court outlining the alleged violation(s). Oftentimes, these are rather low-level violations, rather a serious criminal offense. Some of the most common violations of probation in Indiana include missing curfew, failing a drug test, leaving the state without permission or failing to pay required probation fees.
Once the court receives the petition charging you with violating your probation conditions, a hearing will be scheduled, and the court will typically issue a summons or notice telling you when to appear. If the court believes that you are at risk of fleeing the state or causing harm to others, they may order you to be arrested.
If you deny the allegations of the violation in court, they will set an evidentiary hearing where both you and the state may present evidence. During this hearing, you will have some rights, similar to your rights at criminal trial, like the right to confrontation and cross-examination of the witnesses against him or her and representation by counsel. However, in these types of cases, you do not have the right to a jury trial.
When it comes to proving the alleged violation by a preponderance of the evidence, the burden is on the state; but the burden of proof is lower than that of a criminal trial. If the state is successful in proving the allegations against you, or if you admit to the probation violation, the court will proceed to determine the appropriate consequences.
What are the Penalties of an Indiana Probation Violation?
If you’re found to have been in violation of your Indiana probation conditions, at any time before termination of the probation period, Indiana Code 35-38-2-3(h) allows the court may impose one or more of the following consequences:
- Continue your probation, with or without modifying or enlarging the conditions
- Extend your probationary period for not more than one year beyond the original probationary period
- Order execution of all or part of your sentence that was suspended at the time of initial sentencing
In addition, if the court finds that you have violated a condition of home detention at any time before the termination of the period, and the petition to revoke probation is filed within the probationary period, the court may order one or more of the sanctions stated in the list above AND provide accrued time and good time credit, if applicable, as is described in Indiana Code 35-38-2.5-5.
Consequences for Failure to Pay Fines and Fees Required for Probation in Indiana
If you’ve been found in violation of the probation condition to pay fines or costs (including fees), it’s important to note that this violation cannot be the sole basis for a court deciding to commit you to the department of corrections. Furthermore, probation cannot be revoked for failure to comply with any conditions of a sentence that imposes financial obligations upon you, unless you recklessly, knowingly or intentionally fail to pay. As stated in Indiana Code 35-38-2-3(n), “failure to pay fees or costs assessed against a person under Indiana Code 33-40-3-6, Indiana Code 33-37-2-3(e), or Indiana Code 35-33-7-6 is not grounds for revocation of probation.”
Defense Strategy for Probation Violations
If you’re facing charges of violating probation in Indiana, a skilled attorney can help you build the optimal defense against the allegations. The Indiana probation violation attorneys at Keffer Hirschauer LLP routinely help clients gather and present evidence refuting the charges made against them and aid them in determining whether the State violated any procedural requirements that have the potential to undermine their entire case.
One example of a procedural violation that could be used in your defense involves the requirements for providing notice of the revocation of your probation. Per Indiana Code 35-38-2-3(a)(2) states that a petition to revoke probation must be filed during the probationary period or before the earliest of either one year after the termination of probation or 45 days after the State has notice of the violation. If the State failed to provide this notice within the required timeframe, your attorney may be able to use this to undermine their case against you. Another example of a sound procedural defense would be to argue that the State violated the requirement that you be offered the opportunity to consult with a lawyer before you decide whether to admit a probation violation allegation.
Need to Speak with an Indiana Probation Violation Lawyer?
If you have been accused of a probation violation, an Indiana probation violation lawyer from Keffer Hirschauer LLP can help you accurately recognize all of the small procedural errors and the major evidentiary circumstances that may work in your favor. If the State’s case is solid, then we’ll proceed forward by helping you prepare for the ensuing proceedings, represent you in court and actively pursue the best possible outcome in your case. Our criminal defense attorneys have decades of experience in defending against probation violation allegations as well as wider criminal defense work and stand ready to begin building your defense today. To speak with one of our Indianapolis defense attorneys call 317-857-0160 or complete our online contact form to schedule your free consultation.