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Probation Surrender: The Legal Process

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What Is Probation Surrender?

“Probation surrender” refers to a violation of probation. The term is used mainly in the state of Massachusetts, although it may be used informally in other states. By committing a crime or otherwise violating probation, the probationer “surrenders” their probation to the state through a series of legal proceedings and hearings. 

How Is Probation Violated?

Probation may be violated in a number a ways, including:

  • Getting arrested
  • Failing to update personal information
  • Failing to check in with the probation officer
  • Failing to pass a drug or alcohol test
  • Failing to pay the probation fee
  • Skipping out on rehabilitation programs

Put simply, it may be violated by getting into any kind of trouble. 

What Is the Probation Surrender Process?

1) Notice: The first step in the probation surrender process is receiving a letter from the probation department clarifying the alleged violations and scheduling the probation surrender hearing. The hearing should be scheduled within a reasonable time after the notice is served.

2) Hearing: During the probation surrender hearing, the probationer has the right to a defense lawyer. The prosecutor must show within a “preponderance of the evidence,” which unusually low for a criminal proceeding, that the probation was violated. Moreover, the rules of evidence are very light in probation surrender hearings. For example, prosecutors representing the probation department may bring in hearsay and unlawfully seized evidence

3) Sentencing: At sentencing, a person surrendering probation may be subject to:

  • Incarceration
  • Longer probation
  • Electronic monitoring
  • House arrest
  • Community service
  • Loss of drivers’ license
  • Additional fines

In short, nearly anything that the judge believes will be effective and reasonable in deterring future bad behavior. 

Do I Need a Lawyer?

If you are on probation and are concerned that you may be faced with surrendering it, you should contact a criminal defense lawyer immediately. This is particularly important given how lax the procedure can be. An attorney will be able to help you navigate the probation surrender process and protect your freedom.

Photo of page author Matthew Izzi

, LegalMatch Legal Writer and Attorney at Law

Last Modified: 08-21-2014 12:03 PM PDT

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