Our clients often ask us what probation will mean for them. There’s no good answer, except you don’t go to prison if you do as your probation agent tells you. The truth is, probation is different in just about every case. Agents have a wide range of tools at their disposal to address your problems. Know this: your probation agent can make your life a lot harder than you can make his.
Here’s our one guiding rule on probation: do what they say, when they say, and be nice about it.
That said, here are some important basics about probation.
Just Do It: What You Must Do
Probation is not the same as getting off scot-free. You will be assigned a number of conditions, or requirements, that you must fulfill to stay out of jail. In addition, your probation officer will be supervising your living arrangements and can tell you where you may go, the people you can meet, and all sorts of other details.
Here are some things you will have to do to remain in the probation program:
- Report. Your agent will summon you to meet with him on a regular basis.
- Pay fees, court costs, fines, restitution, and supervision fees. If you owe money, pay on time.
- Submit to a search, without a search warrant, if your agent reasonably suspects you are breaking the law or violating probation. This includes searching you, your car, or anything in your possession.
- Don’t break the law. Just in case you wondered.
- Work. This will help pay those fees.
- Allow your agent to visit you anywhere. That includes at home and at work.
- Submit to a drug test at the agent’s request. This includes a urine or blood test or both.
- Keep a curfew. Remember, you are trying to stay out of prison, and your momma probably told you nothing good happens late at night. She was right.
- Follow your agent’s instructions and advice. This is a catch-all. Don’t let it be your downfall. Just do what your agent says.
You’ve figured out by now probation isn’t freedom. But it still beats the alternative…which brings us to what your agent can do if you violate probation.
Or Else: What Your Agent Can Do If You Violate Probation
If you violate probation, your agent can make your life go from a little uncomfortable to just plain bad. Here are some of the things violators get punished with:
- Prison. Your agent can ask a judge to put you in prison for the entire time you didn’t serve. Oh, yeah: if your agent has found out you were doing something illegal and that’s why your probation is being revoked, you can still face new criminal charges for that illegal act.
- House arrest. You will go nowhere except where the agent wants you to go, probably only to meet him, work, school, church, and your lawyer. And you may get stuck on electronic monitoring, which features an uncomfortable, highly expensive ankle bracelet that will keep you in jeans in July.
- Intensive supervision. This means more meetings with your agent, both scheduled and unexpected, and, if drug testing is part of your sentence, even more drug tests. It will feel as if someone is always watching you. That’s pretty much because someone will be.
Keep It in Perspective
The burden of probation helps folks remember what a gift freedom is, and hopefully reminds them it’s a small price to pay compared to prison. Ordinarily, the real battle is earning a probationary sentence.
If you’re facing a serious crime that could include prison, your freedom is too much to risk you standing alone. You may have a case you can win, but you need the help of a skilled advocate. And if it’s a loser, it’s that much more important to have someone standing there with you who can fully explain all the reasons you shouldn’t go to prison, to convince a judge you’re worth another chance.
If you’re thinking prison could be in your future, start a live chat with us so we can schedule a free meeting to discuss how we might do the heavy lifting to hopefully keep you from doing a long stretch.