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Violating Probation

Interviewer: How do people violate the terms of their probation? How often does it happen?

Adam: To officially violate your probation, which involves going in front of the judge and have a judge reconsider whether you should stay on probation or not, I would say out of every 100 cases it happens 60 percent of the time.

Most of the time it’s technical violations, such as they failed a drug screen. It’s not that they necessarily committed a new crime, it’s more like, “I failed a drug screen,” or they didn’t report to their probation officer as they were supposed to, or the judge wanted them to do community service and they didn’t do it. That’s a technical violation. Those happen a lot.

Usually people get to stay on probation unless they chronically continue to not do what the court asked them to do. The other 40 percent breeze right through and have no problem fulfilling the terms of their probation. They usually get off probation early and everything’s fine.

The Most Common Probation Violation

Interviewer: What’s the most common ways that people violate, that you see?

Adam: They fail a drug screen.

Interviewer: How are the drug screens conducted?

The Probation Officers Are Well-Versed in Exposing Cheating Methods When Conducting Drug Screenings

Adam: You view someone urinating. You have to, because otherwise people bring in other people’s urine. We’ve had people construct contraptions that they try to attach to their body that has other people’s urine in it. You have to physically watch them.

Interviewer: I heard there’s this device called the ‘Whizzinator’. As you mentioned, it’s an attachment that people use.

Adam: We’ve seen those.

Interviewer: I’ve heard of a case where a white guy had a black Whizzinator, and when he went to use it they caught him because of the color difference, which I thought was hilarious.

Adam: We had a case where a person also had a little motor attached to the device it to try to keep it warm; however, because the cups that they deposit their sample in also have temperature strips on them so we know if it’s the proper temperature that actually came from their body.

He had a little motor on it to try to keep it warm, and the thing started making noise while he was in the bathroom. Everybody could hear it. That person went to jail and went to prison.

It Is a Probation Violation to Cheat on a Drug Screen

Interviewer: Is it a crime to deliberately try to beat a drug test such as this?

Adam: It’s a probation violation. They won’t get charged with something new, but their probation will be violated, and in my experience the court has very little tolerance for that.

Interviewer: So your advice is but don’t try to fake your way out of it because you will face much more severe consequences.

Adam: Right. With people who have a drug problem, we expect them to test dirty because people relapse. It’s not the end of the world necessarily, if they fail a drug screen. Maybe their probation will be violated, but maybe that means they need to be on intensive probation instead.

If You Cannot Pass a Drug Screening, Tell Your Probation Officer

They need more monitoring, or they need to go to an inpatient drug and alcohol treatment where they’re locked in and can’t leave, and then they will have nothing else to do but focus on learning how to be clean and sober. Failing a drug screen isn’t horrible.

I’ll tell my people, “Be honest. If you know you’re going to fail the drug screen, tell me. I can help you out if you’re honest. Don’t jump through all the hoops to try to keep it from me because then you make it worse.”

A Term of Probation May Include Avoiding Any Alcohol Consumption

Interviewer: That seems reasonable. Do you test for alcohol or just illegal drugs?

Adam: We test for alcohol also.

Interviewer: What happens in the case where someone’s over 21 and normally, legally they’re allowed to drink it? Is that right taken away because they’re on probation?

Adam: No. Not automatically. It depends what they’re on probation for. If you’re on probation for a DUI, you’re not allowed to drink. If someone has a drug or alcohol problem and they go to treatment and the treatment provider says, “We don’t want them on any mood altering substances, even alcohol.”

Then we say, “No alcohol.” You’re right. It’s legal. The majority of the people, as long as they don’t get arrested for an alcohol-related offense, they don’t go out and get a DUI, or disorderly conduct while intoxicated, it’s legal. It’s not against the law. That’s fine.

Drug Screens Include Testing for Prescription Medication

Interviewer: Does the testing expand to include prescription medication?

Adam: We can verify prescription medication. Almost always now probation conditions include that the probationers have to verify all of their prescriptions. In Ohio, probation officers have access to doctor’s records, so we can determine if somebody comes in and says, “Yes. I have a prescription for this,” we can verify it independent of the probationer.

We can find out because people can get medication off the street. Prescription medication is fine. We’re not doctors. We’re not going to tell someone they can’t have medication, they just have to prove that it’s legal and legitimate.

Drug Screening Tests Are Becoming More Accurate

Interviewer: How accurate is the testing? I’m sure there are urban myths and home remedies to clean drugs from your system and try to fool the test.

Adam: The drug tests are getting more accurate. We’re not naive enough as probation officers to think that people aren’t fooling the tests or attempting to fool the tests. Some of them will successfully evade it. They’ll take something.

I always look at it as if someone’s on probation for five years, the odds of them being able to successfully alter their tests or take something every single time to evade every single test, the odds will not be in their favor.

You may get one, you may get two by me, but chances are somewhere along the line we’re going to catch you.

If you want to go through these big elaborate measures, “I’m going to clean out my system and take this all natural cleanse,” yes, OK, whatever. Chances are we’re going to catch you. Go ahead. We tell them specifically they’re not allowed to do that.

There Are Over-The-Counter Substances That Can Interfere With an Accurate Drug Screen Result

We advise them not to take anything over-the-counter. There are five-hour energy drinks that could potentially alter their screens. We tell them not to take any of those things because they can’t use it as an excuse. If someone tests positive for cocaine and they say, “It’s because I took a five-hour energy drink.” We told you not to do that, so sorry.

Interviewer: What other kinds of substances can interfere with the test and cause you to fail?

Adam: Any of those energy booster drinks that you can buy legal over-the-counter can affect your results. If you take two or three of those energy boosters a day, it’s going to interfere with your urine screens. It’s going to come up that you’re testing positive for actual medication.

Some vitamins and some herbal supplements tend to play with the results. We’ve had a lot of probationers who will, “I’m going to go to GNC and take this cleanse.”

Most of Those Substances Can Now Be Detected

When we run our drug tests, it includes the test to determine if the urine was altered in any way, so if someone tried to drink too much water to try to flush out their system or they took one of those herbal combinations, now we can start to detect those things.

Maybe it will say they were negative, but it’s showing us that they’re trying to alter it in some way, so it makes us more aware to what they’re doing.

The Drug Screening Tests Can Test for Levels of Marijuana in the System

Interviewer: What do you do if someone ingests marijuana? That chemical seems to last in the body quite a long time?

Since the Presence of Marijuana Decreases Gradually, If Your Levels of Marijuana Are Decreasing Weekly, You Won’t Violate Your Probation

Adam: We test for levels. If someone tests positive for marijuana and they’re a chronic smoker, we will test them on a regular basis, and as long as their levels are decreasing then they’re fine.

f I told somebody on the first of the month, “You’re positive. We’re going to test you every week. As long as your levels are going down, you’re fine. You should be clean within 30 to 35 days.” That generally works.

If we have a probationer that takes 60 days to clean out, we know they’re still using, generally. Unless they’re a very overweight person, generally 30 days is the magic number to be clean.

We can monitor the levels on all drugs, not just marijuana to see if it’s going up or down in their system.

By Adam Hunt

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