Probation might seem like the best resolution to your criminal case. You might soon realize this isn't really the case once you learn about the terms of probation. You can face a very limited life. If you don't abide by the restrictions and rules, you can face a probation violation.
Probation is very restrictive
The terms of probation vary from one case to another. Typically, there are restrictions that forbid drug usage or alcohol consumption. Travel restrictions are common. You would have to get permission from your probation officer if you plan to leave the local area.
Taking drug tests, reporting to your probation officer, being subject to random searches, avoiding contact with other felons and going through specific treatment programs are usually terms of probation. You can't get into any more legal trouble while you are on probation. You will have to hold a job, earn an income, and pay all court-ordered fines and restitution. You also have to keep up with paying probation fees.
A judge, not a jury, hears probation violations
Making sure that you keep up with your probation officer is crucial. Your probation officer is the person who can push for a probation violation. He or she can also opt to forgive certain minor violations.
A probation violation is resolved through a bench trial. You will go before the judge. The prosecution only has to show by the preponderance of the evidence that you committed the violation. A jury will not hear your case. This means that you will need to have a strong defense against the probation violation charge. It is possible to work out a plea deal for some probation violations. Your defense attorney can work with the prosecution to find out if this is possible.
Probation violation convictions have serious effects
Probation violations have very serious effects. You face incarceration and increased fines. The judge can sentence you to serve out any portion of your sentence that was suspended. You might also have to serve a longer sentence on probation.
You must carefully consider the penalties and the collateral consequences you are facing when you learn that you are being charged with a probation violation. You can lose your job or your housing if you are sent to jail while your probation violation is pending or as part of the resolution. All of these can be avoided if you comply with the terms of the probation or try to work with your probation officer if you violate the terms of your probation.