What Happens If I Get In Trouble While On Probation?

Can a lawyer or my PO help? Will my probation be terminated? Will I go to jail? If I get in trouble while on probation what happens?


Probation violations can be quite serious. They can result in the revocation of probation and activation of a suspended term in prison or jail time – Bill Powers

Probation Violation

Throughout probation or period of supervision, you must follow or otherwise comply with the conditions Ordered by the Court. Often, one the first and most important conditions is to stay out of trouble.

A Probation Violation is normally the failure to meet any of the conditions set by the Court. Conditions of a suspended, probationary term may include:

  • Costs of Court
  • Fines
  • Probation Supervision Fees
  • Drug and Alcohol Treatment
  • Mental Health Treatment
  • Abstinence from Legal and Illegal Substances
  • Warrant-less Searches
  • Condition of Employment
  • Ignition Interlock Device


See More: Probation in North Carolina


Probation in North Carolina


How Does Sentencing Work in North Carolina?


The Court may impose probation necessary to ensure the defendant will lead a law-abiding life – N.C.G.S. 15A-1343


Within the Sentencing Guidelines regarding the imposition of a Community Punishment or Intermediate Sentence, the Court is given a fair amount of discretion in setting form the terms and conditions of probation.

The North Carolina General Assembly authorizes a sentencing Judge to put conditions in place that “assist” the convicted person in leading a “law-abiding life” that the Court may deem “reasonably necessary.”

It is important to note Structured Sentencing requires an analysis by the sentencing Court of the type of the offense, the prior record of the offender, and the consequences to the community and victim(s). There is a difference between Felony and Misdemeanor charges as it pertains to sentencing in North Carolina.

Attorneys often refer to the “Grid” or “Sentencing Chart” when explaining sentencing. There are two primary “grids” lawyers work with in court:


Misdemeanor Punishment Grid 2016


See More: Misdemeanor Punishment Chart 2016


Driving While Impaired DWI DUI Sentencing in North Carolina, while often a misdemeanor, is sentenced “off-grid,” consistent with the provisions on N.C.G.S. 20-179.


See More: Punishments and Sentencing in DWI Charges



What is the Difference between Supervised and Unsupervised Probation?


Unsupervised Probation 2016


A Probation Officer, sometimes referred to by people as an “PO,” is assigned to the case and makes regular reports back to the Court regarding how the “Probationer” is progressing with the supervision and the terms and conditions probation.


Transfer to Unsupervised Probation in North Carolina



What is a Probation Violation and Can You Be Arrested?

An Order for Arrest may be issued for a Violation of Probation:

  • Probationer is subject to arrest by a Law Enforcement Officer
  • The Probation Officer may be given the authority to Arrest by an
    • Order issued by the Court sua sponte OR
    • After Written Request of the PO, together with a written statement indicating the violated conditions
    • See N.C.G.S. 15A-1345


arrest probation violation ncga



Possible Consequences of Probation Violation

(1) Extension– The judge may order an extension of the probation term
(2) Modification– additional terms of the probation may be added on (Example: more community service hours)
(3) Revocation – The judge may revoke the probation and instead order enactment of the original sentence.


Delegated authority of the Probation Officer

Probation officers also have power granted to them known as “delegated authority” which allows them to impose certain regulations and rules on their probationer without needing specific consent from the Court.

  • N.C.G.S. 15A-1343.2
  • “Dip, Dip, Dunk”
  • Probation officer may exercise authority delegated by the Judge pursuant to subsection (e) of N.C.G.S. 15A-1343.2:


delegation to probation officer


Offenders Sentenced under the Intermediate Sentencing Guidelines – Discretion of PO

  • Community Service and Community Service Fee
  • Curfew
  • Electronic Monitoring
  • Substance Abuse Treatment
  • Substance Abuse Monitoring, Testing, and Assessment
  • Educational or Vocational Training
  • Satellite Monitoring
  • Confinement in “Local Confinement Facility”
  • EHA – Electronic House Arrest
  • Report to PO on frequency directed by Probation Officer


See Related: Special Probation Rules in North Carolina





Transcript for Hearing Impaired


Modified Transcription of “If I get in trouble while on probation what happens” for the Hearing Impaired

Hi, there. Bill Powers. We occasionally see email questions that are posted on different listservs and one of the things I like to do is answer real-world questions and hopefully provide some real-world legal experience to them. This is not from a client or anything like this. It’s just a person who’s posted on a general listserv in North Carolina. It says, “I am on probation for a larceny charge. I received a new charge. Was convicted. Can a lawyer and my PO,” which I assume is probation officer, “help keep me out of jail?”

Well, that’s a good question and it’s not that unusual. People will be placed on probation. Sometimes it’s supervised probation, sometimes it’s unsupervised probation, and then they pick up new charges. It’s a natural reaction or natural question to ask, “What’s going to happen to me?”

Now, there are different levels or types of probation in North Carolina and it’s important to realize that I’m speaking about North Carolina state probation as opposed to federal probation. Let’s assume that you’re on regular, supervised probation. You’re not on intensive probation. You don’t have quite the level of unsupervised probation sometimes we would see with a more minor matter and so, indeed, you do have a probation officer and now you’ve picked up a new charge. Technically, what we try to warn people about is a new charge after having been on probation is technically a violation of the first case of probation. Not only can a new charge effect that, but the new charge may carry consequences in and of itself.

To answer the question, can your lawyer or probation officer help? I say maybe because sometimes a probation officer does not want to help. Maybe the probation officer is seeking a revocation of probation. In other instances, and we do see this pretty regularly, the probation officer says, “You know, they’re doing well otherwise. They’re keeping up with me. They’re doing their alcohol or drug treatment. They’re doing their community service. They’re paying their fines and costs and probation supervision fees. I don’t want to violate them. May have to, but I’m going to recommend that they continue on probation.”

Can a lawyer help? Well, yes. If nothing else, we can provide you with information and, if nothing else, we may be the person standing next to you in court both on the new charge and also any violation or what we call revocation hearing. It could be a bit complicated. It could be a bit scary because oftentimes probation is put into place in lieu of or instead of an active term. If you’re revoked on probation or your probation is terminated, the court can order that that suspended term be placed in effect.

Give us a call. This is what we do. We help people through sometimes complicated and serious legal matters. I look forward to hearing from you.

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