When a person is sentenced to probation instead of jail time, or when he/she is released on parole, there are conditions that must be met. One of these conditions is that the person may not violate any federal, state, or municipal laws. Many often wonder: does being ticketed for speeding or any other traffic violation in New York constitute a violation of probation or parole?
A Traffic Law is Still a Law
In short, yes, violating a traffic law means one has violated the conditions of probation or parole. New York Executive Law 259-i, which governs the process of parole, states that a person released from his/her sentence early is expected to “live and remain at liberty without violating the law…” Most traffic laws are considered (or are on par with) municipal offenses. In some cases, they can even be considered state crimes, such as reckless driving or drunk driving. Even a parking ticket means one has broken a law, albeit a very minor one. Moreover, if supervision rules specifically require a person to report any interaction with police to one’s probation officer or parole officer (“PO”), then this would include traffic stops (but not parking tickets).
What Happens When a Probationer or Parolee Gets a Traffic Ticket
So if the ticket is a violation of probation or parole, what happens? In most cases, nothing. When it comes to texting while driving or failing to signal, a probation or parole officer is not likely to write a report on it. After all, these are minor, everyday violations that average people commit all the time. However, exactly what the officer does in response to a ticket will depend on the ticket itself, the circumstances of it, and the probationer/parolee’s specific situation.
Where one should be concerned is if the traffic violation is quite serious. For example, driving on a suspended license, leaving the scene of an accident or racing on a public highway are major offenses and criminal acts themselves. Each can result in jail time and severe fines upon conviction. As such, these kinds of violations can result in a write up by the PO and punitive action for violating the terms of parole/probation.
It’s important for a probationer/parolee to keep in mind that it is better to be honest about any such encounters. Even if the ticket itself does not result in a ticket, lying or failing to report an encounter with police can result in incarceration.
Will a Traffic Court Judge Be Harsher on a Probationer/Parolee?
Unfortunately, this is possible. Judges are human beings and prone to basic forms of bias; a person who is on probation or parole may be treated as a troublemaker by the judge, even if he/she has only the one conviction on his/her record.
What If I Can Beat the Traffic Ticket?
While a person may still be required to report the encounter with the police to a PO, beating the ticket means that the person has not been found guilty of violating the law. As such, it is less likely that the ticket will result in re-incarceration or other punitive action.
However, as mentioned above, a probationer or parolee is often at a disadvantage when facing a traffic court judge. That’s why it is critical that he/she hires an attorney to represent them in court. An attorney will be able to analyze the facts of the case to determine the strategy most likely to result in a not-guilty verdict. An experienced attorney may have a rapport with the judge and/or prosecutor, which can make up for any potential bias that being on probation or parole brings to the case.
When Should A Parolee or Probationer Hire an Attorney?
Anyone who has been released on supervision following a conviction in New York State should consult with an attorney right away following any citation from police. An attorney can quickly review one’s conditions for parole/probation to determine the seriousness of the situation. If needed, the attorney can advise the client on how to communicate the situation to his/her PO. If a hearing is required, the attorney can attend the hearing and present a defense strategy with the best chance of avoiding revocation of supervision and subsequent incarceration.
If you or someone you love has been released on parole or probation and has been ticketed for a traffic violation or other minor offense in New York, contact the attorneys at Rosenblum Law immediately. The lawyers at Rosenblum Law are experienced traffic ticket and criminal defense attorneys with offices in New York and New Jersey. Email or Call 888-883-5529 for a free consultation about your case.