If you are on probation or parole in Pennsylvania, no one need remind you that you must adhere to numerous rules and conditions in order to remain free. Should your probation/parole officer accuse you of violating any of those conditions, you will need to go to court where the judge will decide whether or not to send you back to jail or prison to complete your sentence.

As explained by the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole, you actually will have two separate hearings called Gagon hearings. Their purpose is to give you the due process guaranteed to you under the Fifth Amendment and Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Gagon I hearing

At your first Gagon hearing, which will occur about 10 days after your arrest for allegedly violating your probation/parole, the judge will decide whether or not there is sufficient probable cause for the state to believe that you violated your probation/parole by doing one or more of the following:

  • Failing to report to your probation/parole officer at the proper time(s) and/or place(s)
  • Failing to show up for any alcohol and/or drug abuse classes or treatments the court ordered you to complete
  • Failing to pay whatever fines and/or penalties the court ordered you to pay
  • Failing to abide by any other of your probation/parole conditions

Bear in mind that your Gagon I judge likely will be the same judge who originally sentenced you to probation, jail or prison. (S)he, therefore, will be familiar with your underlying crime and well aware of the conditions attached to your probation/parole. In addition to determining the sufficiency of the state’s probable cause, (s)he also will determine whether or not to grant you bail or keep you in custody until your Gagon II hearing.

Gagon II hearing

Your Gagon II hearing will closely follow the procedure of your original trial. The same judge likely will hear the evidence and your attorney will have the opportunity to question all of the state’s witnesses on cross-examination. But the issue here is whether or not you committed the alleged probation/parole violation(s). This time the prosecutor must meet only a “preponderance of the evidence” burden of proof, not a “beyond a reasonable doubt” one. This means that only 51% of the evidence must prove that you committed the alleged violation(s). If (s)he succeeds, the judge will then decide whether to let you stay on probation/parole or whether to send you to jail or prison to complete your original sentence.

This is general educational information and not intended to provide legal advice.