Minnesota Probation Violation? Defense Strategies You Can Use

Minnesota Probation Violation? Defense Strategies You Can Use

When you are put on probation, you may feel like you are walking on thin ice. Even though you are physically out of jail, you still have to abide by restrictions that can seriously limit where you go nd what you can do. If you fail to follow these restrictions, you face jail time and the loss of the freedoms probation has given you.

Probation will vary depending on the person who is convicted, their crimes, and other elements. Before you start to live your life again, it is vital that you know these terms inside and out. If you slip up because you fail to uphold even one minor requirement of your probation, you may be forced to serve the rest of your sentence behind bars.

Of course, a charge is not a conviction, and if you have been accused of violating your probation, it’s time to start fighting with a strong defense strategy. An experienced Minnesota criminal defense lawyer can help you craft the best possible defense based on the specifics of your situation.

Still, it can be helpful to know some of the most commonly used strategies for these types of charges, including:


Probation often comes with fines, fees, and restitution. It can be hard to get back on your feet after an arrest or a conviction, but are financial difficulties a possible defense?

Yes and no. In Minnesota, offenders on probation can claim that they are indigent and unable to makes certain payments. However, simply telling a judge that you are too poor to pay isn’t going to fly.

A judge may take a look at your recent purchases to determine whether or not you can truly “not afford” to pay. Unfortunately, this means that “luxury” purchases, including alcohol or the new iPhone, can ruin your defense strategy.

Illiteracy or Learning Disabilities

If you do not have any support, going through the terms of your probation and attending meetings with your probation officer can be hard. Without the ability to drive, you need to navigate public transportation or shell out money for a rideshare. Without the ability to read, you may not even know when these meetings take place at all.

Minnesota Probation Violation

Miscommunication may be an effective defense strategy if you fail to show up for meetings. That being said, actual illiteracy, learning disabilities, or other medical conditions will typically hold up better in court as defenses to your actions.


Miscommunications may result from clerical errors. For example, if you believe the terms of your probation will last for two years, but paperwork says otherwise, law enforcement will likely use the date on the paperwork.

Before you begin the terms of your probation, meet with your defense lawyer and look for possible errors. If you find one after your arrest, you will need to gather witnesses and other records that show you were genuinely abiding by what you thought were the terms of your probation.

False Positive

Offenders typically have to stay sober throughout the course of their probation. Probation officers may test your blood or urine for drugs or alcohol at your regular meetings. These tests can provide solid evidence of alcohol or drug use, but they are not always correct. Human error or miscalculations can result in a false positive – just like with a Breathalyzer.


If your probation violation requires that you were involved in a specific act in a specific place and time, it may be possible to use an alibi to show that you were somewhere else and could not have committed the act. On the flip side, those on probation might have to argue that they were at the probation office or meeting area on time.

If you did not make your regularly scheduled meeting with your probation officer, you will need to have a good defense. If you were in the hospital, in a rehabilitation center, or you were physically injured at the time of your meeting, you may be able to use this as a defense. However, if you simply weren’t present because you were at a friend’s house or you slept in, you shouldn’t bet on a non-guilty verdict.

Defenses Specific to Crimes

Anoka Criminal Defense Lawyer

Offenders cannot commit a subsequent crime when they are on probation. These crimes do not have to be related. If you were sentenced to probation for drug trafficking and were caught stealing while you were on probation, you can be arrested and charged with violating your probation.

If you are accused of a specific crime, learn more about the defense strategies that work for that crime. (We offer information on how you can defend against charges related to domestic violence and white collar crimes, among others.)

In the end, every situation is different. Reach out to a defense lawyer for more information about how you can defend against your probation violation charge.

About the Author:

A former prosecutor and lifelong Minnesotan, Christian Peterson has handled hundreds of criminal cases from both sides of the aisle since he began practicing law in 2006, as well as a wide variety of family law matters. This background allows him to look at situations from all angles and anticipate which arguments the other side may use, increasing his clients’ chances of success. His work has been recognized by the American Society of Legal Advocates, the National Academy of Family Law Attorneys, and National Trial Lawyers, and he has a perfect 10/10 rating from Avvo.