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Frequently Asked Questions

I have handled hundreds of probation cases in Gwinnett and surrounding counties. Being on probation is often one of the most confusing and stressful things that people might endure. The purpose of this article is to answer some of the most common questions that people have about being on probation in Georgia. I will give a fair amount of Gwinnett County specific information, but the same laws and principles apply throughout Georgia.

If you are facing a probation revocation in Gwinnett County, give me a call. I am sure we can help.

What is Probation?

Although they are very similar, there are some differences. Probation is ordered as part of the sentence by the Judge who hears the case. In example, consider the case of a guy named “Johnny” who is charged with Robbery. After Johnny pleads guilty, the Judge might sentence Johnny to serve “10 years, with the first four years in custody, the balance on probation.” That would mean the Judge is giving Johnny a total sentence of 10 years, with the first four years in prison or jail, and the last six years on probation.

However, when Johnny goes into the prison system to serve the four years, the Department of Pardons and Paroles might decide to release him after just three years. Thus, Johnny would serve the fourth year on parole (being supervised by a parole officer), and then serve the last six years on probation (being supervised by a probation officer).

If I have a family member on Probation, will the Probation Officer talk with me about the case?

Most likely, no. Probation officers have very heavy caseloads, so for the most part, they will communicate only with the actual probationer.

If I do the Pre-trial Diversion Program, will I be on Probation?

Technically speaking, no. The Pre-trial Diversion or “PTD” (as it is called in Gwinnett Recorders Court and Gwinnett State Court) and Pre-trial Intervention and Diversion Program or “PTID” (as it is called in Gwinnett Superior Court) are programs for people who have not yet been convicted, and, thus, they are not under sentence. Probation is only for people who are under sentence.

However, someone must supervise the PTD/PTID programs, and in Gwinnett County, they use probation officers to do this. So, if you are in PTD/PTID, you will report to the probation office and you will pay a supervision fee. It will look and feel like being on probation, but you are not actually on probation.

What does having your “probation revoked” mean?

Remember that probation allows you to serve your sentence out of jail or prison. If you violate the terms of your sentence or commit new offenses, the Judge can order you to spend all or some of your remaining sentence in jail. That is called revoking your probation.

What is a Petition for Revocation of Probation?

This is the document in which the probation officer states the ways in which he/she believes that a person has violated the condition of the sentence for which the person is on probation. It will include basic information about the defendant’s original sentence and will list the ways in which the person is suspected of having violated said probation.

What should I do if I am supposed to report to Probation and I don’t have enough money to pay the monthly fees and fine?

Even if you do not have enough money to pay the monthly fines and fees, you should still show up to the probation office on time as required. Try to take a least a partial payment. But, even if you can’t pay anything, you should still show up to probation as required. More and more Judges are refusing to lock people up just because they can’t pay, so long as they are showing up and doing the other required things. But, if you don’t show up, the Judge will most likely issue a warrant for your arrest.

What is a tolling order?

A tolling order may be issued by the Court when a person stops reporting to probation and cannot be found. It is sort of like a time-out in a basketball game being called with one-minute left. The game could be delayed for television commercials or injuries for several minutes, but when play resumes there is still that one-minute left.

Let’s consider Johnny again. Imagine that nine years of Johnny’s ten-year sentence are over with, but for some reason at that point Johnny stops reporting and runs away. The probation officer gets the Judge to issue a tolling order with one year left on Johnny’s probation. Five years later, when Johnny comes back to Georgia and is re-arrested, he learns that he still has one year of probation to complete.

If I am charged with violating my probation by committing anew offense, but I have not gone to trial on the new charge yet, can my probation still be revoked for the new charge?

Being arrested for new charge is only enough for the probation officer to start the VOP proceedings, but not enough for your probation to be actually revoked. Let me explain. If you are arrested for a new charge while on probation, the probation officer can get a warrant for your arrest for violation of probation. This can cause you to go to jail until your VOP hearing is held. But, the mere fact of having been arrested is not proof that you actually committed the crime.

Read this next part carefully: At your VOP Hearing there are three (3) ways that the Judge can reach the determination that you violated probation by committing a new offense, and they are as follows:

  1. If you admit that you committed the new offense.
  2. If have plead guilty or been found guilty at trial.
  3. If a witness to the new charge testifies at the hearing that you committed the new charge.
Read that above list again, and consider the following questions:

Is merely being arrested proof that you committed the new offense? Well, is merely being arrested listed in 1, 2, or 3 above? No! Merely being arrested is not enough proof to cause you probation to be revoked.

Is pleading Nolo Contendere (or No Contest) proof that you committed the new offense? Once again, is pleading nolo on the list? No! Proof that you plead nolo is not grounds to revoke your probation. See the Georgia Supreme Court case of Bolden v. State, S01G1721 (Ga. 2002).

If I am arrested in Gwinnett County for a probation violation, how long will I have to sit in jail until my hearing?

The answer to that question varies depending on which Court is handling your case.

The typical wait time for a violation of probation (“VOP”) hearing in Gwinnett Recorders Court is one to two weeks.

In Gwinnett State Court, the wait time for a VOP hearing is about two to four weeks. It can be quicker if the Judge assigned to your case will allow it to be heard at the Magistrate Court located at the Gwinnett Jail, but they do not always allow that.

The wait time in Gwinnett Superior Court can range from two weeks to two months. The Superior Court is a very busy place and the Judges are typically only able to allocate one or two days per month to VOP hearings. Thus, the wait can be lengthy.

If I am being held in jail for a possible probation violation and the PO wants me to sign for a copy of the Petition for revocation of Probation, should I sign?

Yes. You are only signing for a copy of the Petition and you are not admitting anything by doing so. Failure to sign for the copy might cause a delay in the setting of your hearing date.

Where are the different probation offices for the Gwinnett County Courts?

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The probation office for misdemeanor cases originating in Gwinnett Superior Court is:

Professional Probation Services

225 Scenic Hwy S.
Lawrenceville, GA 30046
(678) 990-5407

The probation office for misdemeanor cases originating in Gwinnett State Court is:

Southeast Corrections
33 S. Clayton Street, Suite 300
Lawrenceville, GA 30046
Phone: (404) 410-2555

The probation office for Gwinnett Recorders Court is:

CSRE Probation Services

(formerly Sentinel Offender Services)
320 W Pike St #100
Lawrenceville, GA 30046
(770) 339-5120

Contact Giannini Law Office today to schedule a no-obligation consultation.

Giannini Law Office, PC.

Call For A Free Consultation
(770) 637-5505