It seems Chris Brown is facing possible jail and/or prison time for violating his felony probation related to his 2009 domestic violence arrest and felony conviction for the assault of his ex-girlfriend, Rihanna. (See http://abcnews.go.com/Entertainment/chris-brown-arrested-violating-probation/story?id=22920304) In 2009, Brown pleaded guilty to one count of felony domestic under California Penal Code section 273.5. Brown was placed on felony probation where he had to satisfy different conditions of his probation including completing an anger management class and not commit any new crimes including any new felony and misdemeanors. It appears that Brown has failed miserably to satisfy the conditions of his probation including failing to complete his anger management class and committing and being convicted of new crimes. Mr. Brown will now have to rely on his experienced California Criminal Defense attorney to represent him in his probation violation hearing in his California felony case.
Violation of Felony Probation in Los Angeles
Under California Penal Code section 273.5, a person a) Any person who willfully inflicts upon a person who is his or her spouse, former spouse, cohabitant, former cohabitant, or the mother or father of his or her child, corporal injury resulting in a traumatic condition, is guilty of a felony, and upon conviction thereof shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for two, three, or four years, or in a county jail for not more than one year, or by a fine of up to six thousand dollars ($6,000) or by both that fine and imprisonment.
Depending on the seriousness of the injury to the alleged victim of domestic abuse, the a Prosecutor in California can charge a domestic violence case as either a misdemeanor or felony. In the Chris Brown matter, Rihanna clearly had suffered serious visible bruising making it hard for his attorney to get the charges reduced especially given the high profile nature of the case.
Because Mr. Brown agreed to be placed on probation in his felony case, he also agreed that a judge may sentence him up to 4 years in a California State Prison for violating his probation. As explained below, Mr. Brown is entitled to a probation violation hearing which is decided by a judge alone and not a jury. It is imperative that if one is facing a probation violation hearing where they are facing prison and/or jail time, that they immediately consult with an experienced California probation violation attorney.
Prevailing at a Probation Violation Hearing
If a prosecutor intends to violate a person’s probation, they given the probationer notice of the probation revocation hearing as set forth in California Penal Code section 1203.4. A defendant/probationer is entitled to written notice of the alleged probation violation usually in the form of a probation or police report, disclosure of the evidence a prosecutor intends to use to violate the probation and an opportunity to respond to the charges that make up the reason for the probation revocation.
A person’s rights at a probation revocation hearing in California differ from the rights that a defendant has at a trial. The standard of proof in determining if there is a probation violation is by a “preponderance of the evidence” as opposed to proof beyond a reasonable doubt. Because the end result of a probation violation hearing can be jail or prison, it is essential that a person consult with and/or retain a seasoned California criminal defense attorney with experience dealing with probation violation hearings.
Often times, especially on first or even second charges of violating probation, a defendant with the assistance of competent criminal defense attorney can negotiate an arrangement where the defendant stipulates to a probation violation in exchange for probation being reinstated on the same terms and conditions of the initial probation except for the fact that the probation would be extended for an additional negotiated period of time. Other deals can be negotiated that would avoid jail or prison time in either a misdemeanor or felony probation revocation matter which should be explored by a person’s criminal defense lawyer.
People on probation, including Chris Brown, can negotiate new terms as a result of a probation violation that avoid jail or prison but such persons should always consult with a criminal defense attorney first before attempting to resolve a probation violation matter since the consequences can be severe if you lose a probation revocation hearing including having to serve time in a California State Prison.