A grant of probation is a term of either informal or formal supervision of a person who has been convicted of a crime but is not receiving the maximum sentence. Formal probation is imposed by the a court after a conviction by either a plea or trial verdict for a felony when the court decides not to impose an immediate prison sentence. Probation is in essence an opportunity to prove good behavior and rehabilitation and avoid a more severe punishment. If probation is violated, a more severe punishment can and usually is imposed.
After the court orders probation on a felony case, the person sentenced to probation called the probationer must regularly have contact with his or her probation officer. In addition the probationer is required to fulfill certain conditions of the grant of probation.
The first and most important condition to any grant of probation is that the probationer avoid contact with law enforcement, and avoid being arrested and convicted of any new criminal law offense. The person on probation will serve a certain period of time in a county jail, attend counseling, undergo drug or alcohol treatment and testing, pay various fines or fees, submit a DNA sample, pay any victim or victims for their losses (restitution), submit to search of their person and home without a warrant, and other various terms.
The first and most important condition to any grant of probation is that the probationer avoid contact with law enforcement, and avoid being arrested and convicted of any new criminal law offense. The person on probation will serve a a certain period of time in a county jail, attend counseling, undergo drug or alcohol treatment and testing, pay various fines or fees, submit a DNA sample, pay any victim or victims for their losses (restitution), submit to search of their person and home without a warrant, and other various terms.
Felony probation generally lasts for 3 years, which is typical, but can last up to five years when the court deems it necessary. A probationer who completes all the terms of his or her probation earlier than expected can petition the court for an early termination of probation.
If a probationer violates probation, probation can be revoked and a state prison sentence imposed. A person charged with a violation of probation is entitled to a hearing before a judge. At the violation hearing, evidence must be presented to the judge in order to prove the violation. If a violation is proven by the evidence, the judge can reinstate probation or impose a state prison sentence. The judge may impose up to the maximum prison sentence.
Misdemeanor probation is almost always informal. Informal probation means that the probationer doesn't have a probation officer, but only needs to obey all laws, pay various fines and fees, perform community service, and in some instances obtain counseling. Misdemeanor probation can be violated fails to pay the fines and fees, fails to complete any community service or counseling or commits a new criminal offense. Sometimes a term of county jail will be required as a condition of misdemeanor probation.
When misdemeanor probation is violated, the court can impose the maximum jail sentence. A misdemeanor probationer is also entitled to a hearing before a judge where the prosecutor must put on evidence to prove the violation.
Successful completion of either felony or misdemeanor probation for the entire term of probation, meaning no violations and successful completion of all the terms of probation, can result in a successful motion to withdraw the guilty plea and dismiss the charges. A Penal Code section 1203.4 motion can be made at the end of a successful term of probation. That motion allows the probationer to withdraw his guilty plea and have the judge dismiss the charges. This dismissal can limit the future legal effect of the conviction.
When confronted with a probation violation, it is always best to have an experienced criminal law attorney represent you. Only an experienced criminal lawyer will know what your rights and options are and how best to obtain a reinstatement of probation. Also, an attorney can help you prepare a motion to withdraw your plea and get the charges dismissed after successfully completing probation. Long Beach Criminal Law Specialist Matthew Kaestner has represented hundreds of clients who were accused of violating their probation. He has a long record of obtaining a reinstatement of probation so that his clients avoid going to prison. He has made many successfully motions to dismiss cases for clients who have successfully completed probation., even clients with very serious felony matters.
Parole is the period of supervised release that occurs after a person has been sentenced to and served time in the state prison on a felony case. The term of parole is usually 3 years. However, persons who do exceptionally well on parole are oftentimes discharged from parole in shorter periods of time.
Like probation, a person on parole must visit his parole officer regularly and fulfill the conditions of parole that usually include drug testing, counseling, employment training and drug and alcohol treatment.
Unlike probation, if a parolee violates a term of his parole, he can only be sentenced to up to 1 year in prison on the violation of parole. If the parolee is violated for picking up a new criminal case, he can do time on the new case as well as the violation of parole.
Like probation, a parolee is entitled to a hearing before a Department of Corrections hearings officer if he is accused of violating parole. At this hearing, the parolee is entitled under certain circumstances to have an attorney present. These circumstances include when the parolee is accused of violating his parole by committing a new serious crime.
For any other questions about probation or parole contact Long Beach Criminal Law Specialist Matthew G. Kaestner directly at (562) 437-0200.