As part of the punishment for many misdemeanor and felony crimes, a period of probation may be ordered. Probation takes the place of incarceration or detention. It allows the defendant to be free in their community, however they still have to be under close supervision by the court system. Probation is meant to be a system that keeps the public safe from the criminals who live in their community. If those criminals are under close supervision, the safety of the public won't be as compromised. The probation period begins when the defendant is released from custody. The probation period will vary based off of the circumstances of your crime and your criminal history. It can last anywhere from one year to several years. Generally, probation is given in lieu of jail time. You may also be given probation after serving a shortened period of time in jail or prison. Probation isn't just freedom; it is still considered a court ordered sanction, or punishment, for criminal convictions. The general goals of probation are to keep the community safe from criminal activity and provide support and resources to the offender to help them rehabilitate from their criminal behavior. You could be given a period of probation lasting longer than what your jail sentence would be, so in many cases, it means you will have to be on your best behavior for longer than if you just served your full sentence. Probation will generally include some contact with the court system in the form of supervision and monitoring. Probation officers in the community handle much of this supervision and monitoring. Dependent upon the terms of your probation, you may have to do any number of things; pay fines and restitutions, perform community service, find employment, maintain employment, complete any drug testing or court ordered counseling. You may also be restricted from owning any firearms or taking any drugs, in some cases this includes alcohol. Your probation terms can also restrain you from contacting or attempting to contact a certain person. This would be the case in domestic violence or assault cases. Similarly, you may be restricted from traveling certain distances or even leaving your home, if you are being electronically monitored in a home detention, or house arrest, program.
If you committed a misdemeanor and are on summary or informal probation, you may not have a probation officer to report to. However, if you committed a felony and are on formal probation, you will be assigned a probation officer. Your probation officer may be making sure you follow all the terms of your probation. If you aren't, they can report it back to the court system. You will also be held to a very high standard of lawful behavior. When on probation, it is very important to don't get into any further run ins with the law. If you do, you will be brought back in front of the judge, who will then punish you for the violation. If you have any questions regarding your probation, you may want to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney to make sure you fully understand the terms of your probation. Violating these rules or terms can have serious consequences so it is often worth it to get professional guidance. After being charged, it can be hard to keep track of all the details of your punishment. Probation terms can easily go overlooked as you deal with getting your life back on track. You may have to have regular meetings with your probation officer. They may make house visits or have you meet them somewhere. Cooperate with your probation officer. If you do not know who your probation officer is, you can go to your local probation office and an officer there will be able to locate your probation officer's name. They will make periodic reports of your progress, which the judge will review. If you accidentally violate your probation terms or violate them in a minor way, your probation officer has the discretion to issue you a warning instead of bringing you back in before the judge. If they do report you, you will have to attend a probation violation hearing. A judge may give you a jail sentence, increase the length of your probation or otherwise change the terms, rules and stipulations in your probation order. Also, IN order to expunge your record you need to have successfully completed your probation, or filed to have it ended early. So, if you violate your probation, you may not be eligible to have your charge dismissed from your record.
Have you been charged with a crime and have questions about probation? Contact attorney Christopher Martens and his legal team. Experienced in criminal defense, our Visalia area legal team can ensure you take the right steps towards completing the requirements of your sentencing. Call our Visalia or Hanford, CA offices at 559-967-7386 or email us at MartensLaw@gmail.com for a free consultation.