If you’re on probation or parole, it’s important to understand your rights and responsibilities. One of the first things to know is that as a condition of probation in Kentucky, individuals agree to be subject to search and seizure without a warrant if the probation officer has reasonable suspicion that they may be in possession of illegal drugs, alcohol, or other illicit items on them or their property.
This means a probation officer can search your house without a warrant. Next, it’s important to know what reasonable suspicion is.
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What Is Reasonable Suspicion?
Reasonable suspicion ensures that law enforcement officials have the necessary cause to conduct a search and that individuals’ rights are not violated without cause.
With regard to probation officers, reasonable suspicion means having a specific and articulated reason to believe that a probationer has engaged in criminal activity or has violated the conditions of their probation.
Some examples of reasonable suspicion that would justify a search include receiving a tip that the probationer is selling drugs, smelling marijuana or other drugs coming from their house, finding large amounts of cash without a legitimate explanation or identification, or learning that the probationer is living at an unapproved address.
These situations suggest that the probationer may be violating the terms of their probation or engaging in illegal activity, which could justify a search of their home or possessions.
Probation officers have this power because probation is considered a privilege, not a right. In other words, when you are released on probation, you are still serving a sentence; instead of being incarcerated, you are allowed to serve your sentence in the community.
However, this privilege comes with certain conditions, and one of those conditions is that you agree to be subject to reasonable search. You are giving up some of your privacy rights in exchange for the privilege of serving your sentence outside of jail.
Common Probation Violations
Failing To Appear
Court appearances and mandated services such as drug or alcohol counseling or community service are a requirement of probation. Failure to follow through with these obligations can result in a direct violation.
Failing To Stay in Contact With Probation Officer
Staying in contact with the probation officer and avoiding contact with known criminals is crucial. It is important to maintain frequent communication with your probation officer and adhere to any restrictions or requirements they place on your activities.
What Happens If You Violate Probation?
Probation officers have the authority to take different measures when offenders violate their probation.
Warnings or Increased Supervision
A probation officer can decide to give a verbal warning, require treatment or curfew, ask for more frequent reports, or place the probationer on electronic monitoring.
Hearing To Determine if There Was a Violation
However, if an offender continues to breach their probation conditions, the officer may decide to escalate the situation and report the violation to the judge. At this point, it’s up to the judge to decide the appropriate consequences.
The judge may call for a hearing to determine if there is sufficient probable cause that the offender has indeed violated their probation.
If there is enough evidence, a revocation hearing is held, and the judge will listen to both the prosecutor and the offender’s attorney. Unlike in a criminal trial, a lower standard of proof is required for the offender to be found guilty of the probation violation.
If the judge determines the defendant is in violation, they will be sentenced accordingly.
The possible sentences for probation violations in Kentucky include incarceration, harsher restrictions, fines, or the extension of the probation period, depending on the severity of the offense. In some cases, the judge may also wish to order counseling or rehabilitation.
Contact a Trusted Lexington Criminal Defense Lawyer To Discuss Your Legal Rights
If you believe that a probation officer has violated your rights by conducting an unlawful search, it’s important to contact an experienced Lexington criminal defense lawyer right away at (859) 569-4014. A skilled attorney at Suhre & Associates, LLC can help you understand your rights and pursue any legal action that may be necessary.