Interviewer: Do you find there are a lot of people that violate their probation unintentionally, whether it’s supervised or unsupervised?
Lauren Scardella: Yes, there are. Unintentional violations are relatively common. They might not tell the probation officer that they’re moving, or they might forget about an appointment. I think unintentional violations are much more common than intentional ones, but I also think that most people do successfully complete their probations.
Interviewer: Do you give people guidelines on how not to violate probation? Can you assist them if they do?
Lauren Scardella: Yes. Our advice is, “Do whatever your probation officer tells you to do, and make sure to communicate with him or her if you are having trouble.”
Interviewer: What happens if you violate your probation? What can the probation officer do? What will they do?
Lauren Scardella: Well, for somebody who’s been convicted and who’s just on regular probation and isn’t in a diversionary program, the officer would file a violation of probation, which requires a hearing. They can have a trial or they can just plead guilty and the probation officer will make a recommendation as to what they think should happen as a result of the violation of probation.
The recommendation might be to terminate the probation, or it could be to extend it or impose additional conditions or just to continue it under the same terms and conditions as before. It could also be as serious as being sent to prison for the maximum term of imprisonment, so if it’s a fourth‑degree, they could be incarcerated for up to 18 months.
Interviewer: What are the most common types of probation violations you see and what are the reasons?
Lauren Scardella: Failing drug tests is relatively common, and so is failing to meet with the probation officer at the appointed time. A person could also get a violation of probation for never getting an evaluation done or never completing community service.