What Happens If I Have Problems with Probation

Failed Drug Test?  Couldn’t Give a Sample?  Picked Up New Charges?  What Happens If I Have Problems with Probation – How Does It Work?


Probation is a Second Chance.  Violating the Order of the Court can be a big deal – Bill Powers 

When it comes to sentencing, North Carolina allows the Judge and Probation Officer a considerable amount of discretion in setting the terms and conditions of a Suspended Sentence.

A Conviction for a Criminal matter may involve things like:

  • Fines
  • Costs
  • Community Service
  • Alcohol Assessment
  • Drug Testing
  • Mental Health Treatment
  • Restitution
  • Probation
  • Supervision Fees
  • Warrantless Searches


With regard to Supervised Probation, it is not unusual for the Court to Order more than one condition.  Failure to comply may result in Violation of Probation  a warrant issued for your arrest, and in some instances, activation of a Suspended Sentence.


See More:  North Carolina Probation Generally 2016



Arrest Probation Violation NCGS 2016


What is a Probation Violation in North Carolina?

  • Hearing Required, unless Probationer Waives
  • The Court Must:
    • Determine whether to Revoke or Extend Probation
    • Findings, Supporting Decision
    • Summary of the Record of the Hearing
  • The State of North Carolina Must:
    • Give Notice of Hearing to Probationer
    • Provide Purpose of the Hearing
    • Statement of the Alleged Violations and
    • Set forth the Failure to Comply with Terms and Conditions of Judgment
    • Minimum 24 Hour Notice, unless hearing waived
  • Other Rights Regarding Probation Violation
    • Cross Examination
    • Confrontation
    • Speak on Own Behalf
    • Disclosure of Evidence against Probationer
    • Legal Counsel, Representation by Attorney
    • Court Appointed Counsel, if Indigent
  • Evidence Standard


See More:  Rules of Evidence in North Carolina 2016




What is Presumptive Drugs and Alcohol Screening?

  • North Carolina Department of Public Safety – Adult Correction
    • Until February 2014
      • Maintained Two Laboratories
      • Trained Staff
      • EMIT Immunoassay Testing
      • Screening based upon Positive Indication
    • Department of Public Safety Labs Closed 2014
  • On-Site Drug Screening now conducted by Probation Officers
  • Utilize Presumptive Test Kit
  • If Drug Use DENIED, Confirmatory Testing
  • If Drug Use ADMITTED
    • Urine Sample may be thrown away
    • Test Positive Result Reported


See More:  Department of Public Safety Adult Corrections Policy Manual 2016


If you are on probation, it’s a REALLY bad idea to test the PO’s patience – Bill Powers 


Probation Officers are generally good at what they do.  Indeed, they are very good at what they do.  They are law enforcement officers in North Carolina and as such, carry weapons and have the power to take people into custody.


EMIT Immunoassay


In fact, Probation Officers are given some powers that would not ordinarily be allowed in gathering evidence of criminal activity.  It is not unusual, especially in drug related case sentencing, for the Court to empower the PO to conduct Warrantless Searches and Seizures.

If you are on probation, concepts of the Fourth Amendment may not apply.  As a condition of being placed on Probation, the Judge may Order you to submit to random tests for the use of both legal and illegal substances.

Without getting into the fundamental fairness of the issue and the fact that some states allow recreational use of Marijuana, North Carolina does not.  The possession and use of Marijuana in North Carolina, with very limited exceptions, is illegal.


See More:  Drug Testing Techniques and Probation in North Carolina 



As attorneys who help clients with Criminal Defense cases, which necessarily include Trials, Sentencing, and Probation Violations, we do see with regular frequency the problems that develop due to continued drug use.

Periodically we encounter legal issues resulting from prior usage of both legal and illegal substances.

Again, as lawyers it is not our job to judge.  Rather, we provide legal advice based upon our training and experience gained in years of helping people in Court.  Yet, we are also technically called “Attorneys and Counselors at Law.”

Part of our job is to counsel people as to their rights, or lack thereof, if they are convicted of a criminal offense.  That includes issues involving the waiver of certain traditional Constitutional Rights as a condition of being placed on Supervised Probation.

If a Judge Orders someone to abstain from the use of alcohol, drugs, medicines, or pills not properly prescribed and stored in authorized containers, well, you should follow that Order or be prepared to suffer the consequences.

Make no mistake, there are consequences even in a suspended judgment for failure to comply.  That is true for Supervised and Un-Supervised Probation in North Carolina.

In fact, if we become aware a client has for example recently smoked marijuana and will likely be tested as part of a Probationary Judgment, sometimes we seek permission to admit usage so as to avoid problems on the initial drug screen.


And yet some clients think they can game the system.  That’s a REALLY bad idea.  Certain substances can and do remain in your system longer than anecdotal evidence would suggest – Bill Powers 


See More:  If I get in Trouble While on Probation What Happens


One of the more common illegal substances in North Carolina is Marijuana.  Again contrary to urban legend, there is not necessarily a scientific “good answer” to the question of “How Long Can Weed Stay in Your System?

A series of factors can contribute to the delayed metabolism and/or elimination of THC Tetrahydrocannabinol from the human body.

  • Frequency of Use
  • Amount of Cannabis
  • Body Mass Index / Fat
  • Exercise
  • Diet
  • Stress Levels


The body’s excretion of carboxy-THC is influenced by the subject’s metabolic rate, percentage of body fat, and is also likely moderated by stress levels and diet – Paul Armentano, Deputy Director of NORML


Transcript for Hearing Impaired


Modified Transcript of “What If I Have Problems with Probation” for the Hearing Impaired

Hi, there. Bill Powers, and got another message board post, a public post. People that just ask general questions in the general public, and we try to give general information, point people in the right direction.
This question asks about, “Wasn’t able to do a drug test and now supervisor won’t give a drug test.”  Sounds like someone may be on supervised probation. They’re getting drug tests as a part of probation, either through the court judgment or probation has some questions about drug use.
They were asked to give a sample and couldn’t give a sample, and now they won’t give a sample (probation won’t offer the chance to give a sample).

  • What are the consequences going to be?


Probation, the best way to think about it is probation is a second chance. Probation is your second chance, meaning that in lieu having jail time or in lieu of going to prison in North Carolina, someone’s going to supervise you. It’s important to realize that whenever a court tells you to do something, whether it’s district court or superior court in North Carolina, you’re supposed to do it, and if you don’t do it, there could be consequences.

First, be polite to your PO, your probation officer. Two, do what they tell you to do. If there are conflicts, if there are problems, we’re all humans, things happen, car may break down on the way there, call them up. Let them know what’s going on. The more you keep information from them, the more upset they become. I think most POs, most probation officers want to hear from their clients, and they want make sure you’re doing what you’re supposed to be doing.
The question is if you’re going for drug testing and sometimes through random urinalysis. Sometimes probation officers do them every time you come to visit them, and you can’t give a sample. Now, I don’t know if giving a sample means I couldn’t go the particular day they wanted, I had a conflict at work, I was sick that particular day, or if I got there and I just couldn’t give a sample. We oftentimes will be using urine test for these things. Maybe someone feels like the urine test was not given for an illegitimate reason for not a good excuse, and now they refuse to give another one. Timing may be important.
Big ticket items we’re looking for. Are you working where you say you’re going to be working? Are you keeping up with your probation officers or have you been found to abscond? Are you living where you’re supposed to be living? Are you paying your court costs? Are you paying your fines? Are you paying your restitution if there’s a victim? Are you doing drug test or urine tests? Are you picking up new criminal charges?
There are series of things they’re looking at. It’s complicated. It can be relatively serious. If you get revoked off probation by a judge or a court, that means that whatever suspended term there was is placed into effect. Please take this seriously. Take probation seriously. Take any probation violation or allegation of a probation violation seriously.
If you have questions, if you’d like a free consultation, a confidential consultation, give us a ring. We’d be more than willing to answer any questions you might have. If we can help you out, we’ll tell you that. If we can point you in the right direction somewhere else, we’ll tell you that as well. I look forward to hearing from you, and great question.

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