Understanding the Difference Between Types of Probation Sentencing

Probation is a commonly requested sentence alternative to spending time in jail for misdemeanors and felonies. Although most people know what probation is, it is unusual for someone to understand each type's nuances and how it is applied to each unique case. California criminal defense attorneys have incredible knowledge of the laws and complexities of summary and formal probations common as incarceration alternatives. If you have any questions about probation and its terms, contact a reputable and professional criminal defense attorney for clarity.

Probation Defined

As an alternative to spending time behind bars, probation allows individuals facing sentencing to be released from jail as long as they agree to adhere to the rules set by the court. In some cases, defendants may avoid jail altogether, and this is something a criminal defense lawyer will present to the court as a viable option. Courts may assign up to a year in prison for felonies and some misdemeanor charges. However, if an individual spends time in state prison, the judge has denied that individual probation. An experienced criminal defense lawyer advocates for her client and works to get the lowest sentencing and shortest length of probation possible. Every case is unique, so the strictness and number of rules that must be followed to stay within probation guidelines will vary. Having a professional defense lawyer at your side for these negotiations is essential so the consequences are in line with the charges and not beyond.

Summary V Formal Probation

In California, there are two types of probation. One is formal, and the other is summary, and it depends on whether the crimes are misdemeanors or felonies. Since probation is optional, only a skilled defense lawyer can argue that probation is sufficient punishment for a conviction. Although not all individuals want probation, most choose to avoid incarceration. Those who choose to spend time behind bars prefer to be released with greater freedoms than some probations allow. Following the completion of a term served, individuals must still be diligent about following the law and staying out of trouble.

Informal probation is also called summary probation and is typically reserved for misdemeanor sentencing. This type of probation has fewer rules and restrictions and allows individuals more freedom if they stay out of further legal trouble. Formal probation is for felony convictions and is designed to restrict activities for those convicted of felonies. Some of the expected rules for formal probation are probation officer visits regularly, asking for permission to leave the county, drug and alcohol testing, curfews, and avoiding any further legal trouble. Someone convicted of a crime wearing an ankle bracelet may be under home arrest, which falls under formal probation. Home arrest may be the best option for some, and an experienced criminal defense attorney will help determine if it is worth pursuing because it is costly to the individual and has its own set of rules that must be followed.

Violation of Probation Terms Result in Incarceration

Since probation is an alternative to incarceration, the violation will immediately result in jail time. Violation of probation will likely mean serving the maximum length of time for the crimes. Those violating probation will not receive a court-appointed attorney because it will be a hearing instead of a trial. However, hiring a private attorney in these circumstances is worth seriously considering to get the best outcome.

Probation Lengths and Terms

Although there are exceptions to the length of time and terms of probation, there is a standard for length of time for most crimes.

Summary probation is usually only up to a year, which is why it is typically the alternative for misdemeanor convictions. Formal probation can last multiple years and may require some time in jail. Those eligible for probation may spend up to one year in jail, whether facing misdemeanor or felony sentencing. Serious felonies may require the maximum time behind bars and extended probation periods. Some of the convictions that may result in lengthier probation periods are DUIs and violent felonies.

Parole and Probation Compared

The terms parole and probation are often confused because they both allow someone convicted of a crime to live outside the jail as long as they stay within the rules set by the court. However, probation is part of an initial criminal sentence. Those granted parole go to a hearing during their incarceration term with the parole board. Probation may not require jail time, whereas parole is for someone already serving time behind bars.

If you are facing criminal charges in the county of San Diego, contact the Law Offices of Joni K. Eisenstein in Oceanside, California, today for a free consultation call. When it comes to keeping your freedoms, Attorney Eisenstein fights relentlessly for her clients. If probation is an option, she will do everything to ensure it is granted as an alternative.

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Hiring a criminal defense attorney like Joni Eisenstein can help you go from a place of uncertainty to freedom.