FAQ 12: What happens if I get a new charge while on probation? What is preponderance of evidence?

If you’re on probation and you pick up a new charge or violate probation, what’s going to happen is that your probation officer at some point is going to file a probation violation affidavit that gets filed the court. If you were taken into custody, you will remain in custody and they will hold you, no bond, on the probation violation even if you have a bond on the new case.

And so, there’s increased pressure on you since you’re in custody and you’re being held without bond even if this was a minor offense. They will not let you out of jail because of the probation violation and again, it puts a huge amount of pressure on you to now plead guilty to the new case that violated your probation in the first place. So, that’s why at all costs we try to avoid putting our clients on probation in the first place.

The different standards of proof that the state have are: there’s beyond a reasonable doubt which is what we hear the most, what we hear on TV, that’s the standard in the entire county, state and federal for a criminal case. However, there are other standards that apply in other situations for example in a probation violation hearing the standard is called preponderance of the evidence.

That sounds like a very fancy and confusing word but pretty simply it boils down to “more likely than not”. So judges use this example of the scales of justice and if it tips even ever so slightly towards guilt, then you know, that’s a preponderance of the evidence. So in probation violation hearing, for example, a judge only has to decide if he’s 51% or 50.1% sure that you did it, that’s all it takes. Whereas beyond reasonable doubt, we can’t quantify the number, we can’t give you a percentage, we can with preponderance of the evidence but it’s a much much higher standard.

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