On behalf of Jeffrey Engle at Shaffer & Engle Law Offices LLC

A Pennsylvania resident who has been convicted of a criminal offense may breathe a sigh of relief if probation is ordered instead of jail time, or if a jail sentence has ended early and parole has been granted.

What is important to know, though, is that even when people are released from jail, they can find themselves in further trouble for violating the terms of probation or parole. One Pennsylvania man in the news recently found this out the hard way.

Requirements strictly enforced

When a person is on probation or parole, the justice system is essentially giving the person a chance for a more lenient resolution of the offense. It is necessary to follow the probation or parole conditions strictly during the entire term, which could be several years.

Court appearances may be required from time to time. Reports to a probation or parole officer will be scheduled. It is important to keep these scheduled appointments scrupulously.

Other terms of probation or parole could include staying away from certain people or places. A person who is on probation or parole is usually not permitted to travel out of the state unless the court officer gives specific permission.

The penalty for violating probation or parole could be jail time, or it could be a fine or an extension of the probationary period. A judge could also add more conditions to the existing probation or parole.

Using or possessing illegal drugs is one type of behavior that could promptly land a person in jail. It goes without saying that someone on parole or probation who is arrested for another offense will probably have to pay an additional penalty for the original offense, along with facing the consequences of the new offense without the same hope for leniency.

A Pennsylvania parole violation

A Pennsylvania builder recently found out to his sorrow that violating the terms of parole is a serious matter. He had been convicted of theft and writing bad checks in Monroe County and also had a bad check conviction in Lackawanna County, along with a criminal history in New York State going back to 1999.

Under the terms of his parole his financial dealings were supposed to be very limited. He drew the attention of authorities after he publicly presented a $13 million investment proposal to the Shamokin city council. The proposal was for a housing renovation and construction project.

The man missed a scheduled meeting with a parole hearing officer in October and left Pennsylvania. After locating the man in a Bath, New York, motel room, investigators brought him before the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole for a hearing.

The board found that the man had violated the conditions of his parole in three ways. He had left the district without permission, failed to report as instructed and changed his residence without permission.

He was ordered to serve the six months jail time required to complete his sentence and was also ordered to receive mental health treatment. He could receive additional jail time if he is found to have violated the restrictions on financial dealings, which could keep him incarcerated until May 2014 or longer.

Staying out of trouble

The Pennsylvania builder's story should serve as a warning that anyone on probation or parole must be diligent about observing the requirements. If there is any doubt or concern about whether or not you are meeting the terms of probation or parole, it is important to consult with a criminal defense attorney for help. An attorney can provide valuable advice and representation to help keep a person out of jail during parole or probation.