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What is a Gagnon Hearing?

by | Sep 4, 2023 | Criminal Defense, Gagnon Hearing

Probation, for many, represents a second chance. But what happens if you’re accused of violating the terms of your probation? Enter the Gagnon hearings. These hearings determine whether someone on probation or parole in Pennsylvania has violated their conditions. For those residing in Media, PA, it’s essential to grasp the intricacies of Gagnon hearings to know your rights and what to expect. Here, we will explore this subject in-depth.

What is a Gagnon Hearing?

A Gagnon hearing is a two-part legal procedure named after a landmark case, Gagnon v. Scarpelli, that determines if a probationer or parolee has violated their terms of release and, if so, the subsequent punishment for that violation.

  • Gagnon I Hearing: This is an initial hearing that determines if there is probable cause to believe parole violation took place. It occurs shortly after the probationer or parolee is taken into custody for the alleged violation. The objective is to decide if they should remain detained until their final hearing.
  • Gagnon II Hearing: This is the final violation hearing where it’s determined if the defendant indeed violated their probation or parole conditions. If the court finds that they did, they can then face penalties, including potential reincarceration.

The Significance of Gagnon Hearings

Why are these hearings so pivotal? For one, they ensure due process for those on probation or parole. Even if someone is alleged to have broken the rules, they’re entitled to a fair hearing. This is essential for maintaining trust in our justice system, especially for those already trying to rebuild their lives post-conviction.

What Can Lead to a Violation Hearing?

Probation violations can range from minor infractions to more severe breaches. Common reasons that might bring someone to a Gagnon hearing include:

  • Technical Violations: Missing appointments with a probation officer, failing drug or alcohol tests, or not attending mandatory classes or meetings.
  • New Criminal Charges: Being arrested and charged with a new crime while on probation.
  • Failure to Pay Fines or Restitution: Not keeping up with financial obligations set by the court.
  • Leaving the Jurisdiction: Traveling outside of the allowed area without permission.

Your Rights During a Gagnon Hearing

If you or a loved one faces a Gagnon hearing in Media, PA, it’s crucial to be aware of your rights:

  • Right to be Heard: The defendant has the right to testify and present witnesses or evidence in their defense.
  • Right to Notification: The defendant must be informed in writing of the claimed violations against them.
  • Right to an Attorney: If the defendant can’t afford one, a public defender will be provided. It’s always advisable to have legal representation, given the result of the hearing could mean the difference in your freedom or incarceration.

The Role of an experienced criminal defense attorney in Gagnon Hearings

Facing a Gagnon hearing can be a stressful and daunting experience. Having experienced attorneys by your side can be a game-changer. At Bauer Scanlon & Wigginton, we pride ourselves on providing meticulous, dedicated representation for those facing probation and parole violation hearings.

We thoroughly investigate every aspect of the alleged violation, ensuring our clients’ rights are upheld and presenting a robust defense. Our mission is to secure the best possible outcome for each individual, recognizing the profound impact these hearings can have on someone’s life.


Hiring an attorney who is an expert at Gagnon hearings can mean the difference between continued freedom and a return to confinement. Navigating this complex legal terrain requires knowledge, expertise, and dedication.

For anyone facing such a hearing, or for those who want to better understand the legal framework that shapes life post-conviction in Pennsylvania, the attorneys at Bauer Scanlon & Wigginton are here to assist, guide, and advocate for you. Your future, your freedom, and your rights deserve nothing less than the best representation.  Call us for a free initial 30-minute consultation at 610-590-5092.