Upon a conviction in misdemeanor court, or sometimes known as courts of limited jurisdiction, defendants are often times placed on probation. Probation allows a person convicted of a crime the chance to remain in the community instead of going to jail. Probation requires that you comply with certain court-ordered rules and conditions under the supervision of a probation officer. Typical conditions may include performing community service, meeting with your probation officer, refraining from using illegal drugs or excessive alcohol, avoiding certain people and places, and appearing in court during requested times.
The amount of time you are on probation depends on the offense and laws of your state. Typically, probation lasts anywhere from one to three years, but can extend longer and even up to life depending on the type of conviction, such as drug or sex offenses.
A person who is placed on probation is usually required to report to a probation officer and follow a variety of conditions during the probation period. Specific conditions may include: 1) Regularly meeting with your probation officer at set times; 2) Appearing at any scheduled court appearances; 3) Paying fines or restitution (monies to victims); 4) Avoiding certain people and places; 5) Not traveling out of state without the permission of your probation officer; 6) Obeying all laws, including minor laws such as jaywalking; 7) Refraining from illegal drug use or excessive alcohol use; and/or 8) Submitting to drug or alcohol testing.
Typically, the conditions imposed relate to the type of criminal offense. For example, a judge may require you to submit to periodic drug testing or attend a drug rehabilitation program for a drug-related offense. Similarly, a judge may require that you avoid specific people or group members for a gang-related or battery type of offense.
A probation violation occurs when you break any of the rules or conditions set forth in the probation order at any time during the probation period. When a potential violation is discovered, your probation officer has the discretion to simply give you a warning, or require you to attend a probation violation hearing. If a judge determines that you violated your probation, you may face additional probation terms, heavy fines, a revoked probation, jail time, or more.
During a revocation hearing, the prosecuting attorney must show that you, more likely than not, violated a term or condition of your probation. Generally, you have a right to learn of any new charges against you and to present evidence in court before a neutral judge that may support your case and/or refute the evidence brought against you. You may wish to consult with an attorney or other legal professional regarding the rights available to you in your particular state.
A revoked probation does not automatically mean you will be sent to jail. A judge has a variety of options available during sentencing. For instance, upon a revoked probation, a judge may add an extra length to the probation, impose additional fines, or require you to get counseling or attend other treatment programs. Alternatively, a judge may order you to spend a brief period of time in jail, or require you to serve the time allotted on your original sentence, depending on the circumstances.
If you or a loved one is in a bind as a result of a criminal charge, immediately contact a Seattle Criminal Attorney. A Criminal lawyer is not going to judge you, and understands that everyone makes mistakes. Hiring a Seattle Criminal Lawyer to help can – at a minimum – reduce penalties, and can help direct people on how to best deal with their criminal charge, and many times even get them dismissed. So it should go without saying that someone cited for a misdemeanor or felony should hire a qualified Seattle Criminal Lawyer as soon as possible. Criminal charges can cause havoc on a person’s personal and professional life. Anyone charged with a crime in Washington State should immediately seek the assistance of a seasoned Seattle Criminal Lawyer.