Following a conviction, the judge must decide whether to grant probation. The judge may consider many factors, including the nature of the offense, the criminal history of the defendant, the safety of the public, the loss to the victim, the needs of the defendant and the interests of justice, including punishment and reintegration of the defendant into the community. Probation is enforced by the threat of being sentenced to jail if you fail to comply with your requirements.
You may also get probation as a result of pleading guilty to a crime or accepting a plea offer. Supervised probation is under the supervision of a probation officer while unsupervised probation is without formal supervision. The purpose of probation is to rehabilitate the defendant. Generally, a defendant will be required to complete a program of classes that are designed to address the actions and behavior that got the defendant charged with a crime. Defendants on probation are generally expected to complete community service requirements as well.
Failing to comply with the requirements of probation can lead to revocation of the probation and that may cause a defendant to be sentenced to jail or prison. Other consequences include additional fines, additional community service, and additional rehabilitation programs. For example, if a defendant is kicked out of his/her domestic violence classes because he/she did not attend, this may trigger the revocation of his/her probation. In such a case, a defendant could either be sentenced to jail/prison or the judge may simply order the defendant to begin his/her classes over from the beginning.
Because the judge has so much discretion when deciding whether to revoke probation if a defendant does something wrong, a good attorney can go a long way to protect a defendant’s freedom. A criminal defendant needs an attorney who has the experience to know what the judge will be concerned about, and what arguments will help. Our clients count on us to aggressively pursue all of the alternatives to being sentenced to jail or prison.