Violation of Probation
Violations of probation orders can have a dramatic impact on youth in the delinquency system. They may result in post-disposition changes for contempt, revocation of probation, transfer to the adult criminal justice system, or secure placement. Many children fail on probation because the conditions the court has ordered for their probation are often too onerous or too burdensome to fulfill. The list of “standard” probation conditions and the myriad of meetings and programs a child is required to attend often are not individualized to meet that child’s specific needs or challenges. This simply sets many children up for failure. While children are recognized to have underdeveloped cognitive abilities, many juvenile courts hold youth to an absolute compliance standard, rather than a substantial compliance one. Juvenile defenders have an obligation to advocate for achievable conditions of probation at disposition.
When a child is alleged to have violated condition of probation, however, the defender must zealously defend those allegations and, if necessary, mitigate the child’s failures. Despite the oftentimes low burden of proof, defenders must consider challenging every violation allegations. When a child is found to be in violation of a probation condition, defenders have the opportunity and obligation to mitigate probation failures in the context of the individual child and argue against commitment, for more appropriate community-based services, or even for case closure.
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