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All About Probation From A Criminal Defense Attorney

A Criminal Defense Attorney provides information about Probation

If you’ve been arrested and convicted of a crime, you may assume you are going to jail. But that’s not always the case. In some situations, your criminal defense attorney may argue for probation. But what is probation and is it something you should pursue?

Defining Probation

Probation is a court-mandated order that is applied only in certain circumstances and comes with specific terms and conditions for the defendant. It is offered as an alternative to jail.

Probation Can Be Ordered In Two Different Ways:

  1. The court withholds sentencing and orders probation instead.
  2. The court imposes a sentence of jail time but stays it for the period of probation.

Defendants are still found guilty of a crime, but the sentence is suspended or not imposed for the duration of the probation period. If the defendant violates his/her probation, it can be revoked and the original sentence reinstated or jail or prison time ordered.

Probation allows an offender to remain free in the community, maintain his/her job, and reduces strain on the jail system. Some first-time offenders may even be able to have their record expunged, or cleared, after successfully completing their probation.

Conditions Of Probation

Probation does come with its own set of requirements. Anyone who is placed on probation will have to report to a Department of Corrections probation officer for the entire length of his or her probation. Meetings will occur at set times, perhaps weekly, perhaps more or less frequently. Other conditions of probation may include:

  • Paying fines or restitution.
  • Performing community service.
  • Appearing at scheduled court appearances.
  • Refraining from using illegal drugs or excessive alcohol.
  • Avoiding certain people and places.
  • Not traveling out of state without first clearing it with the probation officer.
  • Submitting to drug and/or alcohol testing.
  • Participation in rehabilitation classes.
  • Keeping the probation officer informed of any changes in name, address, or contact information.

The conditions imposed and the length of the probation will relate to the type of criminal offense committed. Your probation officer will go over the terms of your probation with you and you’ll have to sign a document acknowledging that you understand the terms.

Violating Probation

Violation of probation occurs when any of the rules or conditions included in the probation order are violated, broken, or ignored. When this happens, the probation officer determines if you get a warning or if probation revocation procedures are commenced.  If the department tries to revocate you and the judge feels that you violated the terms of your probation, you may end up with additional probation terms, fines, revoked probation, and/or jail or prison time.

Once it has been determined that you violated your probation, you will likely end up in jail on something called a probation hold. You’ll stay in a county jail while an investigation into the situation takes place.

You Cannot Post Bond To Get Out Of A Probation Hold, But You May Be Released In Other Ways:

  1. Your criminal defense attorney may petition for your release under certain rare circumstances.
  2. Your criminal defense attorney applies for an Alternative to Revocation (ATR). ATRs come in many forms and receiving one depends on the circumstances that led to your probation violation and your criminal history. Examples of ATRs include: sanctions, alcohol or drug treatment, anger management counseling, domestic violence treatment, or some other form of treatment.
  3. Your probation may be revoked. Based on your history and the circumstances, you will be granted a hearing to contest the revocation request. Your probation officer will have to prove that you violated the terms of your probation while you and your criminal defense attorney contest the allegations and argue that the violation does not warrant revocation.

Criminal Defense Attorney

As you can see, a criminal defense attorney can be very helpful in probation situations. Your attorney will help you navigate the process from start to finish. He/She will be your advocate during the initial hearing, throughout your probation, and if any violations arise. One of their biggest roles is as a negotiator. Defense attorneys are used to working with the courts, judges, probation officers, and the district attorneys’ office. You are far more likely to secure a positive outcome with an attorney on your side than if you were to leave your fate up to the court system.

If you have any questions or concerns probation, probation violations, or probation holds contact the team at Eisenberg Law Offices in Madison, WI to arrange a free, confidential consultation. We can be reached at 608-256-8356 or online.