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You Can Beat the Rap, But You Can't Beat the Ride: Why Probation Is No Easy Way Out

Legal troubles for Chris Brown continue to mount as he faces new assault allegations. On Monday, the R&B singer was arraigned and released on bond for misdemeanor assault, which was originally fled as a felony. The underlying police report indicates the altercation happened outside of the W hotel when Brown allegedly punched the victim after he tried to jump in a photo with the singer and two females.

The frenzy that occurred outside of the courtroom as Brown awaited arraignment pales in comparison to the impact his latest arrest can have on his career and freedom. Brown is still on probation stemming from his 2009 felony domestic violence conviction for attacking his former girlfriend Robyn "Rihanna" Fenty. This is not the first arrest Brown has had since being on probation. Twice the state has moved to revoke his probation; the most recent attempt was related to a hit-and-run after a minor accident. Brown’s attorney was able to reach a deal to keep him on probation by agreeing to have Brown perform an additional 1,000 hours of community service.

Whether Brown is able to beat the charges for his latest assault case remains to be seen, but the arrest alone may be enough to have his probation revoked. Lawyers often say to probationers "you can beat the rap, but you can’t beat the ride," and that is because while on probation, defendants must abide by all of the stipulations that are part of their plea deal or face the possibility of incarceration. Terms of probation typically include monthly fees and monitoring by the probation office, random urinalysis, and most importantly, no new law violations.

Even an arrest that does not result in a conviction can land a probationer in jail or prison because the burden of proof on a motion too revoke is not "beyond a reasonable doubt," but a "preponderance of the evidence." For instance, if a defendant goes to trial on criminal charges, the state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant committed each element of the offense. However, on a motion to revoke probation, the burden of proof is a preponderance of the evidence, that is, is it more likely than not that the probationer committed a new crime. Therefore, it is possible and probable to have probation revocations based on charges that were either dismissed or that the defendant was found not guilty of committing.

Probation is no easy way out. The successful completion of probation often requires defendants to cut ties with people that are bad influences and avoid situations where altercations are likely to occur. I certainly hope Brown reconsiders his current path because the excuse that trouble just seems to follow him will not spare much longer.

Author Biography:

Stacy M. Allen has served as counsel on an array of legal matters including civil and criminal law, family law, bankruptcy, and even terrorism cases. Stacy is a proud graduate of St. Edward’s University where she graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree in International Relations with a concentration in Latin America, and of Howard University School of Law, in Washington, DC, where she served as President of the Huver I. Brown Trial Advocacy Moot Court Team. Her current practice focuses on a variety of civil litigation and criminal law matters.

Stacy M. Allen, Attorney at Law (@SMAllen_Esq)

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