If you are convicted of a criminal offense, one of the sentencing options available to the judge may be a period of time on probation. Because time spent on probation means time not spent n jail/prison, most defendants push for probation. In some cases, this is not wise because the reality is that the rules and conditions of probation can be difficult to abide by for some people, particularly for a lengthy period of time. If you are considering a guilt plea agreement that requires you to spend a period of time on probation, of you are set for sentencing and are hoping for probation, you need to understand the down side to probation as well as the up side. Toward that end, an Omaha criminal attorney explains what happens if you violate probation.
What Is Probation?
Most people have some idea what probation is and what being on probation entails; however, because there are also some common myth about probation it is best to make sure you know exactly what probation is. Probation is a type of sentencing alternative that may be part of your sentence if you are convicted of a criminal offense. A defendant can be sentenced directly by the sentencing judge to a term of probation in addition to, or in lieu of, a period of incarceration in the county jail. Notice the term “jail” instead of “prison.” That distinction is also important because as a general rule, only sentences of incarceration for up to one year can be served in the county jail. If you are sentenced to serve more than one year, you will serve that time in the state prison system.
If you are sentenced to serve a period of time on probation, you will be supervised by the sentencing court throughout your time on probation. You will also be assigned to a probation officer. Most probationers are required to report to that officer on a regular basis; however, you could also have non-reporting probation. As the names implies, non-reporting probation means you do not have to report to an officer but must abide by all other conditions of your probation. The sentencing court sets the terms and conditions of your probation and retains jurisdiction over you until you complete your probation.
Probation Terms and Conditions
While on probation you must comply with all standard and special terms and conditions set by the court. Standard terms of probation are terms that every probationer must comply with and may include things such as:
- Reporting to a probation officer as directed
- Maintaining employment and/or enrollment in school
- Submitting to drug and alcohol testing and not testing positive
- Not getting arrested for a new offense
Special conditions of probation are terms that apply to your sentence specifically and are tailored to your offense and/or to your history. Examples of special terms of probation may include:
- Attending a theft class
- Completing a substance abuse evaluation and treatment
- Paying restitution
- Obeying a no contact order
What Happens If You Violate Your Probation?
When you were initially sentenced to probation, you probably missed the part where the court sentenced you to a period of incarceration and then suspended that sentence. Most first-time defendants miss it. It’s important though to understand because it means you have that entire jail term hanging over your head while you are on probation. If you allegedly violate any of the terms of your probation a hearing will be set at which time the State (via the prosecutor) will present evidence of the violation. You will also have the opportunity to present a defense. If the judge finds you did violate your probation the judge could revoke your probation and send you to jail to complete some, or all, of your suspended sentence. If the term/condition that you violated wasn’t one of the more serious ones, the judge could let you off with just a warning or could modify your conditions.
Contact an Omaha Criminal Attorney at Petersen Law Office
If you are currently on probation in the State of Nebraska, and you are concerned about an alleged violation of the terms and conditions of your probation, consult with an experienced criminal lawyer as soon as possible. In Nebraska contact Petersen Criminal Defense Law 24 hours a day at 402-509-8070 to discuss your case.