Probation refers to a form of punishment for misdemeanor/felony convictions that allows the convicted defendant to avoid jail time in favor of a supervised release.
However, the defendant may face some level of restriction during the period of probation, and any violations of the probation can result in greater punishment.
When facing a legal challenge for criminal charges, it’s important for the defendant to remember they could have multiple sentencing options based on their case. In other words, a defendant does not necessarily face the possibility of freedom from jail time, and probation only serves as one possible outcome.
Other possibilities can include:
The judge may rule the defendant has to pay a fine or cover the cost of damages inflicted on a victim. For example, a person found guilty of vehicular endangerment might be ordered by the judge to pay the medical bills of any victims injured during the alleged crime.
Instead of jail time, the judge could order the defendant to engage in a set number of community service hours as a punishment. The number of hours would depend on the crime, the defendant’s record, and any mitigating circumstances of the incident in question. A common number tends to be 40 hours, and the court may supply a specific location for the defendant to serve those hours.
In the event of this option, the defendant should take it upon themselves to keep track of the hours of service themselves. The site manager should be doing that as well, but having backup information never hurts for verification purposes.
Generally, a mix of fines and community service, although sometimes with the added benefit of removing the offense from the defendant’s criminal record upon successful completion of the program.
Standard probation conditions can include, but not be limited to:
Obeying all laws – This seems obvious, but people on probation run the risk of suffering greater legal punishment for failing to maintain
Maintain regular contact with the probation officer – Don’t miss the check-ins. While some leniency can be offered, a person on probation has to maintain regular contact with their probation officer.
Pay all court-ordered fines – If the court says to pay, do as they say. No court in any district in any state within the U.S. enjoys dealing with defendants that won’t pay their fines.
Maintain employment – If the defendant in question can prove they are attending classes, that can be used as an acceptable variation.
No drug/weapon possession – This one kind of goes along with the Obey All Laws rule, although possession of legal protection for medical marijuana usage might need to be cleared up prior to beginning the probation process.
Additionally, an individual on probation may be required to:
-Submit to warrantless searches and/or random drug screenings.
-Refrain from traveling outside of the state or county.
-Avoid certain places and/or individuals.
-Be required to wear a tracking device.
-Undergo substance abuse treatment at additional costs, including therapy and/or institutional aid.
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