The Difference Between a ‘Technical’ and a ‘Non-Technical’ Violation of Probation in Maryland… and What It May Mean for You

For many people accused of crimes in Maryland, the option of probation can be very beneficial. Probation may allow you to get a shorter stint behind bars… or avoid serving time in jail entirely. The key, though, is to avoid any violations of probation, as a violation may lead to your spending vastly more time in jail. There are, however, ways in which you can beat the state’s assertion that you’ve violated your probation. Doing that, though, often requires an in-depth knowledge of the law, so it is well worth your while to retain a skilled Maryland criminal defense attorney for your case.

One of the keys to winning your hearing regarding an alleged violation of probation is to win the argument about whether your violation was a “technical” one or a “non-technical” violation. It’s important because technical violations are more minor in nature and generally involve, at most, just a few days in jail. The maximum a first technical violation can get you is 15 days in jail. For a second technical violation, it’s 30 days and 45 days for a third. A non-technical violation, on the other hand, is more significant and may lead to your serving the entire portion of your sentence that the judge suspended, even if it’s your first violation.

Maryland statutory law defines a technical violation as “a violation of a condition of probation… that does not involve: (1) an arrest or a summons issued by a commissioner on a statement of charges filed by a law enforcement officer; (2) a violation of a criminal prohibition other than a minor traffic offense; (3) a violation of a no-contact or stay-away order; or (4) absconding.”

That fourth one, absconding, has a very specific meaning in Maryland probation violation law. To abscond, you have to “willfully evade the supervision” of the Division of Parole and Probation. As a real-life example, there’s J.C., a man who pled guilty to credit card theft and was sentenced to 18 months in jail (suspended) and three years of supervised probation. As a condition of his probation, the court demanded that J.C. complete a “drug court” program.

J.C., however, did not complete his drug court program, having left the treatment facility before he was finished. So… was this a non-technical one based on J.C.’s absconding from the treatment facility or just a technical one?

It was a technical violation. J.C. walked away from the treatment facility. When he did, he did not willfully evade the supervision of the department. Therefore, what he did couldn’t constitute absconding and couldn’t be the basis of a non-technical violation.

The difference between 15 days and 12 months behind bars

This will make a big difference for J.C., assuming it’s his first technical violation. If so, he will spend, at most, 15 days in jail. Had the trial court’s order, which incorrectly concluded that J.C.’s violation was a non-technical one, been upheld, J.C. would have been required to serve fully 12 months in jail.

Probation violation cases are very serious matters. Losing your violation of probation hearing may result in your spending many extra years behind bars. Be ready to defeat an assertion that you violated probation by having the legal team you need. Look to the skilled Maryland criminal defense attorneys at Anthony A. Fatemi, LLC and our many years of experience to provide you with the effective advocacy you need. To learn more, contact us at 301-519-2801 or via our online form.

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