What is Probation?
There are different levels. First of all, there is supervised probation, where you have to meet with a probation officer at their direction, which is usually monthly. There’s also unsupervised probation where you might just mail in a piece of paper once a month, verifying that everything’s going well and what you’ve accomplished.
Within the realm of supervised or unsupervised probation, there are usually three tiers. These aren’t official but in general what you’ll find is there’ll be an easier level probation with fewer requirements. There will be a middle level of probation with a little bit more and there will be an intense level probation where they are heavily involved in everything you’re doing and requiring a great deal of time and attention by the client.
It is very important that people understand that all probations are not the same, that they can be very different based upon people’s history, what exactly occurred in this particular offense, the judge, the court, the probation department of that court, and the prosecutor’s attitude. There are a number of different factors that all have some role in determining the final outcome, along with what effort we as a defense put forward to convince the judge that you deserve an easy probation or short probation or no probation. All of these things affect each case differently.
It really does pay for people to spend the time and money to make sure they get the best possible outcome. That can be the difference between success with completing probation or failing probation and ultimately going to jail. The worst case scenario for a lot of people is to almost complete probation and then violate and go to jail. People may occasionally forget one small stipulation or they start to assume that the court isn’t going to check them for this or check for that any longer, and then everything falls apart. There’s a lot to worry about.
Going through a criminal case and being convicted is difficult enough, and many defendants are relieved to receive a sentence of probation instead of a term of imprisonment or jail time in Michigan. Probation has many different requirements, and it is extremely important that the individual who is on probation abide by these requirements strictly. If the conditions of a person’s probation are not met, that individual can face charges for a probation violation. In most cases, violating probation results in a period of imprisonment.
If you are on probation and are now facing charges for violating a condition of your probation, you should discuss your options with a probation violation lawyer as soon as possible.
What is a Probation Violation?
In order to understand what a probation violation entails, it is important to understand what the sentence of probation looks like under Michigan law. According to MCL 771.3, probation includes all of the following conditions:
- During the term of probation, the probationer cannot violate any criminal laws within the state of Michigan or any federal criminal laws;
- During the term of probation, the probationer cannot leave the state of Michigan without obtaining consent from the appropriate court;
- The probationer must report to his or her probation officer either in person or in writing at least once a month (whichever form is required by the probation officer);
- Probationer must pay a probation supervision fee (if the sentence happened in a circuit court);
- Probationer must pay restitution to any victims;
- Probationer must pay a specified assessment and specific costs to the state; and
- If the conviction was for a sex offense, the probationer must comply with the sex offenders registration act and register appropriately.
In some cases, the court can also require the probationer to do one or more of the following things:
- Be imprisoned in county jail for a specific period of time or for specific intervals of time that will not exceed 12 months;
- Pay a fine;
- Pay certain probation-related and court costs;
- Pay additional assessments;
- Engage in community service;
- Agree to pay any restitution or fees by wage assignment;
- Participate in a treatment program for substance abuse, drug treatment, and/or mental health treatment;
- Participate in a community corrections program;
- Remain under house arrest and/or be subject to electronic monitoring;
- Participate in a residential probation program;
- Complete a term of incarceration in a special alternative incarceration unit;
- Abide by conditions set forth for a victim’s protection or safety;
- Reimburse the county for any expenses associated with the conviction; and/or
- Complete a high school education or its equivalent.
How Do Probation Violations Happen?
As you can see, there often are many conditions of probation. Violating even one of these conditions, such as driving out of the state of Michigan without permission or failing to check in on time with a probation officer—can lead to a probation violation charge. Indeed, failing to abide by even one of the conditions outlined above can result in a probation violation.
If you are facing a probation violation offense, you should speak with a defense attorney as soon as possible.
Defenses to a Probation Violation in Michigan
There are many different defenses to probation violations in Michigan, which depend upon the specific nature of the violation. For instance, with the help of your Troy probation violation defense attorney, you may be able to argue the following, for example:
- You did not actually leave the state of Michigan;
- You were making good faith payments on restitution and assessed costs to the state of Michigan, and understand that you have complied with the restitution requirement or the assessed costs requirement;
- You failed to make required payments because you lost your job, but you have been making a good faith effort to find a new job and to continue making payments;
- You did in fact report to your probation officer, and your probation officer made a mistake;
- You failed to report to the probation officer because you are being harassed or treated unfairly by the probation officer; or
- You are not guilty of the new crime that you have been accused of committing.
How to Contact a Probation Violation Defense Lawyer
After you have gone through the criminal process and have been convicted of an offense for which you now are on probation, it can be extremely frustrating and demoralizing to learn that you are being charged with a probation violation when you have not done anything wrong. In such a case, it is extremely important to reach out to an experienced probation violation lawyer who can help you with your case. At the Michigan Defense Law, we have been helping build defenses for Michigan clients for years, and we can get started on your case today.
Can Probation Ever be Modified?
It can happen. The court has the discretion to determine what level of supervision you need and what you need to be doing during that probation. Those terms can be modified by the court as needed or as they see fit. It goes both ways. They can be eased up or they can be tightened up depending upon if the court thinks you’re doing the right things or not. The client can, if they feel comfortable enough, approach it through their probation officer on their own.
If you can afford to hire an attorney to help you with it, then it’s worth it because I know the language that they speak. I know the issues that might be successful and the ones that might not be successful in the best way to present it to the court. I don’t think you have to have an attorney to do that but it’s probably better to use somebody who knows the system better than you do. We’re going to usually know the individual tendencies and likes and dislikes of the judge and the probation in that court.
Are Probation Officers Allowed to Come to Your Residence or Place of Employment Unannounced?
They can, but I’ve never had a situation where they showed up at somebody’s work unannounced. I have situations from time to time where they will show up at the person’s house. What they’re trying to do at that point is usually see if there’s drugs or alcohol in the house and see what the environment is, and see whether the person really is living where they say they’re living, that kind of thing.
It doesn’t happen too often but occasionally it does but it is rare that they do it. They don’t really have the manpower to be running around that much. It’s a lot more common in felony cases when they are first evaluating you to determine whether or not to put you on probation. They may look at the living arrangements that you have and see who you’re living with and what it looks like. Even that is not typical but that occurs more frequently than it does for a misdemeanor probation.
Does Probation Have Any Effect on Driving Privileges?
Probation itself doesn’t have any effect on your driver’s license. It’s only a matter of whether the offense that you’re convicted of has any effect on your driver’s license. Whether or not you’re on probation doesn’t affect your driver’s license.
For more information on Levels of Probation, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (248) 451-2200 today.