Probation is an alternative to jail for somebody who has been convicted of some type of criminal offense. The judge basically has a few choices when somebody is convicted as far as what the punishment should be. The first is to just put them in jail and forget about them. The second is to give them jail and the combination of probation or the third is probation only and by last chance, a last option and the least often imposed is simply a fine and no jail or probation.
Probation is basically considered an alternative to incarceration and it is a way for the court to supervise somebody and keep an eye on somebody for a set period of time in order to make sure that they are doing everything the court wants. For a misdemeanor conviction, the longest time you can be on probation is two years. For a felony, the longest you can be on probation is five years.
What is the Difference Between Probation And Parole?
Parole is a type of supervision that is imposed on someone who is being released from prison. What you might do is similar to probation but it’s parole if you’re coming out of prison. It’s probation if you are in the state system but have not been sent to prison, meaning either you got no jail time or the amount of jail time you’ve got was one year or less which is the amount you can serve in the County Jail.
Beyond one year, you go to the Michigan Department of Corrections and you go to prison. When you’re released from prison, you get on parole. As long as you never went to prison, if you’re being supervised, it’s probation and parole.
What Factors Does the Judge Consider When Deciding on Probation and Terms of Probation?
They look at your charges and your past criminal history. They look at whether or not you have previously been on probation and been successful or failed in trying to decide whether or you’re even a good candidate for probation. Some people have a long history of getting in trouble and being put on probation and failing to complete it successfully. In those cases, a lot of times, the judge doesn’t want to waste the resources on probation with this person and instead will just give them a jail sentence.
Typically they’re looking at the totality of the circumstances. They can impose any kind of conditions that they feel are rationally and reasonably related to the underlying offense and the underlying problems that the person is trying to address.
Is Probation Only Applicable After a Conviction?
Before you are sentenced, you are out on bond. If you’re not in jail, you’re on bond. While you’re on bond, you can have conditions similar to probation. You can’t leave the state without permission, you have to do drug or alcohol testing, you have to stay in touch with pretrial services, and other things along those lines are conditions of your being out of jail while your case is pending. You do not go on probation until after your sentencing occurs, which is usually a few weeks or a month after you’re convicted. Probation only starts only after sentencing.
Does A Person Have to See a Probation Officer While Out on Bond?
Not usually. Sometimes you do keep in touch with pretrial service which is a division of probation that oversees certain people who are out of bond. That’s up to the judge whether or not you’re being supervised by pretrial services. That decision occurs at the time you are arraigned on the original case.
The very first time you appear before a judge or magistrate, they set your bond conditions then determine what you have to do while the case is pending. Whether or not you’re supervised by an actual worker through pretrial services is up to the judge. A lot of times the judge won’t require that and other times they will. That’s one reason why long before somebody goes on probation, they want to make sure that they are putting their best foot forward even at the time of arraignment because those bond conditions can substantially affect your freedom during the pendency of your case.
Can Probation Ever Save Someone From Getting a Conviction on their Record?
Yes, there are certain deals that we make sometimes for example for people who are under the age of 25 or have a first offense drug case or in some situations we can negotiate what’s called a deferred sentence where the charge will be reduced or dropped after a successfully complete probation.
In all of those types of scenarios, the qualifying factor is that we negotiate a deal where they get a chance to prove themselves through probation and if they’re successful, then the case results and the case gets dismissed. There are some circumstances where that occurs and other circumstances where the person just has the success, so they complete probation in order to avoid jail time.
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