California is increasingly turning to probation as a way to save money over incarcerating non-violent offenders. While probation is certainly preferable to being locked up, it is still a punishment and those who receive this alternative sentence must carefully follow all the rules set out in their probation agreement or risk being sent to jail or prison. If you have been accused of violating your probation, an Oceanside probation violation lawyer can help.
Formal Probation Rules
We previously discussed the difference between summary and formal probation violations in California, but essentially, summary probation is given to those charged with misdemeanors and those convicted of felonies will receive formal probation. It shouldn’t be surprising then that there are far more restrictions put on those on formal probation.
Probation agreements vary greatly based on the crime a person was convicted of, their criminal background, their history with drug or alcohol abuse and more. For example, a person on probation might be required to pay restitution to their victim, go through a drug treatment program, perform community service or wear an ankle monitor. Your Oceanside criminal defense attorney may be able to help you secure a less restrictive probation agreement as part of your plea bargain, but there are some rules that everyone on formal probation must obey.
Anyone on formal probation must submit to warrantless police searches of their bodies, cars, homes and belongings at will. They must also submit to drug tests when asked to do so and many offenders will also be subjected to alcohol screenings. Because a felony conviction will take away your right to serve in the military, participate in a jury or possess a firearm, those on formal probation will be ineligible to do any of these things as well. They must also meet a probation officer whenever they are told to do so, which will generally be once a week at first although most probation officers will reduce the number of appointments as a person’s probation period goes on. They must also obtain the probation officer’s permission to travel anywhere outside the county and to move outside the county will require a court order.
Summary Probation Rules
Summary probation agreements can have many of the same optional details based on the specific circumstances involved (such as anger management classes, drug testing, paying restitution, etc.). But one of the only universal rules for those serving summary probation is a prohibition against getting in any further legal trouble. Even then, most minor infractions will not count against you.
Fighting Probation Violations in Oceanside
If you have been accused of violating your probation, you can plead your case at a hearing before a judge. You are allowed to have an Oceanside probation violation attorney help defend you. Because the judge at these hearings can reinstate your probation with no changes or sentence you to incarceration, it is important to do whatever you can to defend yourself.
A judge can resentence anyone on probation to the maximum length of the crime they pleaded guilty to, even if their original plea agreement put a cap on the sentence. For example, if someone received no jail for a felony which carries a three year maximum sentence, a probation violation can result in the three year prison term. There is no right to a jury trial in these cases, only a judge and the standard of proof is preponderance of the evidence, unlike a criminal jury trial which requires proof beyond a reasonable doubt.
Probation is Optional
Probation will generally last anywhere from one to five years and is generally longer than the jail or prison term you might serve if you were incarcerated instead. Specifically, in San Diego County most misdemeanor and felony probation is for three years, but DUI is five years. For good cause, a judge can also terminate probation early which then allows for expungemnent of the conviction.
While most people prefer probation, some would rather just serve their sentence behind bars and then have total freedom when released. It is worth keeping in mind that probation is optional and you should discuss your options with your lawyer before making any final decisions.
Anyone accused of a probation violation or debating whether or not probation is right for them should contact an Oceanside probation defense lawyer as soon as possible. You can schedule a free initial consultation with Peter M. Liss by calling (760) 643-4050.