We’ve all heard the phrase on TV and in movies, but what really is “probation?”
As a criminal defense attorney in middle Tennessee, we’re well-acquainted with the probation process. We thought we’d clear up any confusion so you have all the information you need moving forward.
What is probation?
An individual that pleads guilty to or is found guilty of a criminal offense may be required to serve a period of probation. Probation is an opportunity for individuals to demonstrate to the court that they can reside in the community, obey the law, and comply with any additional restrictions or requirements that the court deems appropriate for a set period of time.
Conditions of Probation
While probation is preferable to a jail sentence, there are requirements that must be followed in order for probation to be successfully completed. Probation can be unsupervised or supervised.
Unsupervised probation is less common and is generally only granted if you have met all other probation requirements, such as paying any fines owed. If probation is unsupervised, generally the only condition that must be met is that there are no re-arrests or violations of the law during the probationary period.
Supervised probation (the more common type) has additional restrictions. If you are on supervised probation, you will be assigned a probation officer. The probation officer will review the conditions of your supervised release with you, which can vary from case to case.
Those conditions could include:
Reporting to Probation
You will be required to report to a probation officer periodically (most often in person, but in some circumstances can be done remotely through phone or mail).
Other requirements (depending on the nature of the original criminal charges) could include completion of classes or community service, abstinence from alcohol, or other conditions.
For any other requirements, such as classes, you will need to secure documentation to confirm your completion of these requirements to provide to your probation officer and the court.
While on probation, you may be required to provide notice to your probation officer of any out-of-state travel. Your probation officer also needs to have your most recent contact information, so be sure to provide notice of any change of address or phone number.
There are fees associated with being on supervised probation. While failing to pay probation fees won’t typically result in jail time, most counties will not allow you to be released from probation until fees are satisfied.
Often, probation conditions include an expectation of reduced privacy. For example, you may be required to be subject to searches. As a result, any continued illegal activity could put you at increased risk of being in violation of your probation conditions.
Completion of Probation
If no probation violations are issued and all costs are paid, probation will naturally expire upon completion of the probationary period without any additional court appearances.
While probation often provides clients with an easier alternative to jail time, defendants must be aware of the conditions of probation since probation violations can come with stiff penalties.
Call an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney
If you are facing criminal charges or have violated the terms of your probation, consult experienced defense attorney John Webb for a free initial consultation of the specifics of your case.