One of the things that I tell clients is that when you’re in school, when you get 90% on a test, you still got an A. When you’re on probation and you get 90%, you fail and you are going to get a violation and maybe go to jail. One of the biggest misconceptions is that if you just do pretty well on probation, you will be okay. In reality you have to do everything exactly as they tell you, especially if you’re being tested for drugs or alcohol.
You cannot miss a test. You can’t be late for tests. You can’t have a positive test. You can’t say you use lists or anything. You’ve got to do what they tell you to do, otherwise you’re going to have problems and you’re going to be at risk for going to jail. I would say number one misconception is that it’s not as serious as they think it is.
Is Drunken Alcohol Testing Typically a Term for All Cases or Just a Drug or Alcohol Related Charge?
Typically if the judge is going to place somebody on probation, and they want to order drug and alcohol testing, it’s supposed to be rationally related to the case at hand. What that should mean is that either there were drugs and alcohol involved in the case, or the defendant was known to have a drug or alcohol problem or history of problems. If so, then it’s very common that they will place restrictions on them not to use alcohol or drugs and to test.
However, a lot of courts will try to impose those conditions on people for things totally unrelated to drugs or alcohol, and on people who have never had any history or problems with drug and alcohol. In those situations, they need to be prepared to argue against this at the time of sentencing to convince the judge not to impose those things because for people who don’t have any issue with drugs or alcohol, for them to have to be tested randomly and call a phone number every single day to find out if they have to test and get into a testing facility before 9:00 in the morning.
It’s a real burden that they don’t get any benefit out of because they don’t have a problem. It’s important to be prepared to argue against that at the time of sentencing if you have a situation that does not merit drug or alcohol testing.
Does Probation Automatically Include Community Service?
It’s not mandatory, except in some drunk driving cases, but it’s very common that community service could be a part of probation. That’s another issue that is important to be prepared to address the time of sentencing, because it’s only a matter of saying one different word for a judge to give you 20 hours of community service instead of 80 hours of community service. You need to be able to convince the court that you should be on a lower level of probation and probationary conditions, and that includes the amount of community service that you end up doing.
Can Someone Travel Out of State or Internationally While on Probation?
You can’t travel out of state or out of the country without the court’s permission. Generally speaking, it’s not too hard to get permission for work purposes. It becomes harder when it’s for vacation. There’s one local judge around here who likes to say that probation does not rhyme with vacation in this court. It all depends on the individual judge. It’s completely in their discretion. The probation officer can sometimes be helpful in getting the judge to approve it but the judges don’t want to approve travel requests.
What if Someone Moves Out of State While on Probation?
Technically any time you’re on probation, you cannot leave the State of Michigan without the court’s permission. In theory, the court can prevent you from moving and there have been a few examples where that has happened. There was one case a few years ago where a member of the Detroit Tigers was cut from the team and he was on probation for domestic violence and wanted to move back to Florida where his home was, and judge would not let him go until the probation was over. It’s pretty rare. Most courts will let you move if you are moving.
That will be a good instance to try and get the probation terminated perhaps or at least you’d modify it to unsupervised probation but you would need to get permission through the court system to do that. Felony cases can be transferred to the new location but misdemeanor cases are typically not transferred. They’ll either terminate you or make it non-reporting but in a felony, they will routinely transfer the probation to the new jurisdiction. In fact, the new jurisdiction would have to accept you before they would let you go from here.
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