If you are on probation, you have to meet a number of conditions to remain in good standing and successfully complete your probation period. One of them is regular drug testing. In this blog post, you’ll find out how drug testing works and what happens if you fail a drug test.
The first thing you need to know is that failing a drug test is a probation violation and can have serious consequences. As a result, you could have your probation revoked and be sent to jail or prison.
You could also have additional conditions added to your probation sentence, such as having it converted to intensive probation, requiring 24/7 supervision. In addition, your remaining parole period could be extended. The same could happen to your jail sentence.
So if you fail a drug test, it’s a very serious matter, and you need the help of an experienced probation violation attorney to help you get the best possible outcome.
What Is Involved in Drug Testing on Probation?
When you’re placed on probation, you’ll be given instructions on how to be tested for drugs. You need to follow those instructions carefully and exactly.
Generally, the parole officer will tell you that you have to submit to a drug test right away. What is probation drug testing? It means that you need to go to a nearby drug testing facility and provide a urine sample or whatever kind of specimen they may request. It’s important to learn all about
The drug testing facility will provide the results to your probation officer. If you tested negative, all is well. If not, you’ll have a serious problem.
Most of the time, your urine will be tested, but sometimes, they may also test your blood or hair follicles. There is a wide range of drugs you might be tested for, along with commonly abused prescription medications. You may be asked to provide prescriptions for any medications you are currently taking if you test positive for substances found in prescription drugs.
Hair follicle testing can detect drug use that has taken place weeks or even up to three months ago. Blood screening is not used as often because some drugs cannot be detected after just six hours.
What Happens If You Fail a Drug Test?
Failing a drug test while you’re on probation can have serious consequences. However, there is one exception: If this is your very first drug test and you have just been notified of the drug testing requirement, you will probably not be penalized even if your test may show residual substances from before you were told about the tests. That test will be considered your baseline. Any subsequent tests that show a higher amount of drug residue will be a big problem, though.
What happens next will depend on your parole officer. If this is your first failed drug test (other than the baseline test), and you’ve met all other conditions so far and have established yourself as generally trustworthy, your parole officer may give you a warning.
However, you should be prepared for far more serious consequences, especially once you have received a warning.
Petition to Revoke Probation
The probation officer may file a petition to revoke your probation, and they can also issue a warrant for your arrest. If you are arrested, you may be held “non-bondable,” which means that no amount of money will get you out of jail until your court case is completed. An alternative would be that the judge might release you on your own recognizance. This is very rare, but if you have a skilled attorney, it’s possible.
The next step is generally a probation violation arraignment. If you have an experienced probation violation attorney at this point, he or she will have spoken with your parole officer and hopefully arranged to have both the arraignment meeting and the violation disposition meeting at the same time.
The violation disposition meeting is essentially the sentencing meeting where the judge will decide what the penalty will be. This way, you’ll be released much more quickly, and you’ll either be put back on probation, possibly for a longer term, or your probation will be changed to “intensive probation,” which comes with additional conditions and may include 24/7 supervision.
Probation Violation Court Proceedings
If the arraignment was not combined with the disposition, there will be a hearing. This is very different from a regular court case. Normally, the court would have to prove the crime beyond reasonable doubt. In the probation violation hearing, however, even hearsay is admissible as evidence. Of course, the defense attorney can bring in witnesses as well.
If the judge decides there was no violation, you will be placed back on probation and released. However, if the judge decides there was a violation, he has the choice to conduct the disposition or sentencing hearing right away, or schedule it for another date while keeping you in custody.
At the disposition, the judge can either revoke the probation and send you to prison, or reinstate the probation, while possibly extending the term, or changing it by adding conditions and turning it into intensive probation.
The Possible Outcome
Since a failed drug test counts “just” as a technical violation and not an additional crime, your lawyer can try to negotiate with your parole officer and prevent your parole from being revoked. However, you do need an experienced parole defense attorney to help you with that.
If you are on parole and have either failed a drug test or are afraid you might, be sure to call us and request a free consultation. We have helped many others in your situation, and will be happy to help you as well with getting the best outcome possible.