Probation allows people who have pleaded guilty or been convicted of crimes to serve all or part of their sentences outside of jail or prison. A person who has been given probation must comply with strict terms to remain out of jail. Probation violations are serious matters that can result in the acceleration or revocation of a suspended or deferred sentence. This means that instead of completing probation in one’s own home, able to go to work and live a relatively normal life, the person will be sent to jail or prison to serve the rest of the sentence.

If you are accused of violating your probation, it is important to contact an attorney as quickly as possible—not only for defense of the violation itself, but also for representation in Motion to Accelerate (MTA) or Motion to Revoke (MTR) proceedings.

What is Probation? Deferred and Suspended Sentences

In Oklahoma, probation typically occurs following one of two outcomes to a criminal case:

  • A deferred sentence
  • A suspended sentence

Although a deferred sentence and suspended sentence function similarly, there are stark differences between the two.

A deferred sentence occurs when a defendant pleads guilty, but the judge delays conviction and sentencing. Instead of accepting the guilty plea, the judge orders probation. If the defendant successfully completes probation, the charge is dismissed. A deferred sentence does not result in criminal conviction if the defendant does not violate probation. Deferred sentences are typically given to first offenders or those charged with minor offenses.

While a suspended sentence functions similarly to a deferred sentence in terms of probation in lieu of jail or prison, there is a notable difference. Unlike a deferred sentence, a suspended sentence is the result of criminal conviction.

In a suspended sentence, a person is convicted of a crime, and the judge, at sentencing, chooses to suspend all or part of the sentence, allowing probation instead.

Conditions of Probation

Every case is unique, and the terms of probation will vary in some degree. However, there are several probationary conditions that are commonly seen in deferred and suspended sentences:

  • Supervision and reporting to law enforcement
  • Abstinence from drug and alcohol use
  • Substance abuse counseling or treatment
  • Other types of counseling and treatment, for example anger management or parenting classes
  • Random drug testing
  • Payment of all court costs and court-ordered fees, fines, and restitution
  • Required permission  to leave the state
  • Community service
  • Prohibited association with criminals
  • Firearm restrictions
  • Refrain from breaking any laws

If you are accused of breaking any of the “rules” associated with your probation, you could face criminal charges if the violation is a criminal act, and you will likely face a motion to accelerate or revoke the deferred or suspended sentence.

Motion to Accelerate

If you were given a deferred sentence, and you are accused of violating your probation, the District Attorney may file a Motion to Accelerate (MTA) your sentencing.

Remember, a deferred sentence is a delayed judgment, which means the person serving the deferred sentence has been neither convicted nor sentenced. If the MTA is granted, the judge will move up the process. The guilty plea the defendant entered will be accepted, he or she will be convicted, and the judge will prescribe a sentence.

The defendant will not be given “credit for time served” under probation.  In other words, it does not matter that a person has served three years of probation before violation and acceleration. At sentencing, he or she will be eligible for the full sentence allowed by law—not the full sentence minus three years served as probation.

Motion to Revoke

Probation violations involving a suspended sentence may trigger the District Attorney to file a Motion to Revoke (MTR) the suspension.

If the MTR is granted, the judge will remove the suspension and send the convicted person to jail or prison to complete the remainder of the sentence.

In the case of a suspended sentence, unlike the deferred sentence, the person has already been convicted and sentenced. For this reason, any part of the suspension already served will be credited toward the sentence. If a person is given a 5-year suspended sentence, and he or she completes three years before violating probation and having the suspension revoked, then the defendant would serve the remaining two years in jail or prison—not the full five year sentence.

Oklahoma MTA/MTR Defense

Probation only keeps you out of jail as long as you stick to the plan. If you are accused of violating probation, you need to contact an attorney as quickly as possible. Your lawyer may be able to demonstrate that you did not violate probation or may be able to offer solutions to any problems you have had completing treatment or paying court costs. These proactive approaches may stave off a motion to accelerate sentencing or to revoke your probation.

If the District Attorney has already filed a MTR or MTA, your attorney can challenge the motion and work to keep you out of jail.

Call Oklahoma City defense attorney Ryan Coventon for more information or to schedule a free consultation.