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Frequently Asked Questions About Probation

Despite the inarguable importance and usefulness of probation, most people do not know exactly what it is or how it is obtained. If you have found yourself in the same situation of needing answers about probation but not knowing where to get them, Naegle Law Firm can help you. Our Mesa criminal defense attorneys offer free case evaluations to prospective clients and may be able to assist you in understanding and getting probation. For answers to some basic questions regarding probation, please review this handy Probation FAQ provided below.

  1. What is probation? 
    After someone has been convicted of a misdemeanor or felony, the court will need to decide on punishment, including incarceration. Under special conditions, the judge may decide to use probation in lieu of any jail time, allowing the convicted to stay within their home and community so long as they meet certain requirements – i.e. break no additional laws.
  2. What are common probation conditions? 
    Probation conditions will vary between sentences but each one has the goal of keeping a criminal offender from breaking the law again and in a similar fashion. For example, if you were convicted for robbing a store with an accomplice, you would be banned from seeing that person during your probation. Common conditions also include paying all fines and restitutions, never breaking any laws, staying within state boundaries, and avoiding intoxication.
  3. What is a probation officer? 
    When a person is given probation, they will also be assigned a probation officer, who will “check in” on them from time to time. Terms of a probation sentence will usually include monthly or weekly meetings with a probation officer to prove that the convicted has not violated probation conditions. During these meetings, mandatory, irrefutable drug tests may be administered, especially if a drug crime was linked to the conviction.
  4. How long does probation last? 
    Most probations will only last as long as the jail sentences they replaced but some can last longer, as a bit of a trade-off – you stay out of jail but must be “on your best behavior” for an extended period of time. Typically, probation will last between 1 to 3 years but could potentially go as long as the judge sees fit; it is not impossible to receive lifelong probation for certain felony convictions.
  5. Are there penalties for violating probation? 
    If you break any of the conditions of your probate, you have committed another crime. Your probation officer will be given the option to warn you, or order you to go to a probation violation hearing. At this hearing, the presiding judge can add more conditions to your probation, extend the probation, implement fines, or revoke your probation and send you to jail as if your original sentence was imprisonment instead.
  6. Can my probation’s duration be reduced? 
    If you have completed at least one-third of your probation without incident or violation, you should be eligible to request a probation reduction or complete removal. The judge hearing your petition will have complete discretion over the outcome. Talk to your attorney about what you can do to build a persuasive argument that may cause the judge to listen to your plea.
  7. Is parole just another word for probation? 
    No but it is understandable to make this mistake. Parole is very similar to probation but involves the early release from jail or prison, rather than avoiding incarceration altogether. If you have been sentenced to imprisonment but were not barred from seeking parole, you should talk to your criminal defense lawyer as soon as you can about scheduling a parole hearing.