When a friend or loved one is arrested for a crime, it’s common to feel scared and frustrated. The court hearings and sentencing process that follows can be even more intimidating. However, you can prepare for these challenges by learning some of the various terms surrounding our legal system.
One of the most important aspects you can understand, especially when your loved one is a minor or a first-time offender, is the concept of probation. Knowing how probation works and the requirements involved will help you support your friend or family member so they can avoid a scary probation violation. Here’s what you need to know to get started!
What Exactly is Probation?
When someone is arrested and sentenced for a crime, there can be several potential outcomes. First, there’s the possibility that the citizen will be sentenced to immediate incarceration. Depending on the length of the sentence and the severity of the crime, the individual may or may not be eligible for parole later on.
The second possibility is probation. One of the most common alternatives to prison, probation is often granted to individuals who are considered low-risk to the community and those who’ve just been convicted of their first offence. It should not be confused with suspended sentences, which allow people to return to regular life without restrictions (with or without special conditions).
There are several other alternative sentences, including fines, restitution, and court-ordered community service, any of which can be folded into the conditions of probation. Court-established conditions must be faithfully met during the probation period. If your wondering what probation period means, it’s simply referring to the length of the probation sentence.
What are the Different Types of Probation?
There are multiple kinds of probation, each with different categories and levels of court requirements.
- Supervised Probation – Mandates that the charged individual meet or report to (by phone or mail) a parole officer at regulated intervals. Appointments are generally set weekly or monthly.
- Unsupervised Probation – Does not involve the direct oversight of a probation officer, but still mandates the individual complete certain conditions of probation.
- Crime-Specific Probation – Requires the convicted individual to refrain from specific crime-related activities, locations, or persons to prevent relapse. For instance, a person convicted for a cyber-crime might have their computer access denied for a time.
- Community Control Probation – Often includes the use of a tracking device to movements of the convicted individual. House arrest is likely included.
- Shock Probation – To acquaint the convicted person with the consequences of jail time, a judge may mandate a convicted person to spend a limited period in prison. Afterwards, they should be released to follow conditions of probation.
How Do Probation Violations Work?
Each probation sentence typically comes with a set of conditions that must be met by the convicted individual. Usually, this involves meeting with a probation officer appointed by the court, who checks in on the progress of the person. There may also be conditions created that requires the individual to pay restitution to an injured party or fees to the state. There may also be a mandated court date to review the convicts progress.
If someone is found to be in violation of probation, serious consequences may soon follow. The subject will be taken to a judge for probation violation sentencing. While the exact penalty will vary based on the circumstances of the violation, whether it was a misdemeanor or felony probation violation, etc., there is little room for error.
First-time violators will likely receive a stern warning from the judge, which could also be paired with a fine, harsher probation conditions, or even limited jail time. Again, it all heavily depends on the circumstances and weight of the violation. Potential probation violations include:
- Missing a Pre-Appointed Court Date
- Neglecting Scheduled Meetings With Probation Officer
- Being Caught With a Controlled Substance (for drug offenses)
- Being Found With or in Communication With Restricted Individuals
- Failing to Provide Ordered Restitution or Fees
- Getting Arrested
- Traveling Beyond Court-Mandated Boundaries
- Failing to Complete Ordered Community Service
If a person on probation is arrested for a crime, the likelihood of them serving a prison sentence is greatly increased, especially if the crime is related to their prior case. Second-time violations will also likely end in the suspension of probation and prison time.
What’s the Difference Between Parole and Probation?
As we mentioned earlier, probation is an alternative sentence that can be mandated instead of jail time. If the convicted person carries out all the conditions of their probation, it is likely they will never see jail time. Parole, on the other hand, is a shortening of an individual’s incarceration after they have already spent some time in prison. Parole is granted by a convened board of persons that examine the circumstances of the original crime, the individual’s behavior in prison, and their potential risk to the community.
Not all people convicted of a crime are eligible for parole, and not every individual that is assessed for parole is granted it. If a person is granted an early release from prison on parole, they are usually subject to certain conditions similar to those mandated for probation. They’ll also be instructed to regularly meet with a parole officer to monitor their behavior and encourage their reintroduction into society.
Can you be on parole and probation at the same time?
While theoretically possible, it’s exceedingly rare for a person for a person who’s out on parole to be granted probation. The more likely outcome is that the parolee will be taken back into incarceration for the remainder of their prison term, where they will then face the added penalties of their new crime. In other words: if someone is on parole, they should avoid committing a crime to the best of their ability.
If you or a loved one has been charged with a probation violation in Lubbock, TX or a nearby city, make sure you contact your criminal defense attorney and a trusted bail bond agent. Our team at Caprock Bail Bonds would be happy to assist you however we can. You can contact our office at 806-722-2120.