Even if you have not personally had an encounter with the criminal justice system, you are most likely still familiar with the term “probation.” Flip on the television and a character on a crime-drama show is being sentenced to probation, or on the evening news, the top story may be that a well-known individual has been sent to jail for violating the terms of his or her probation. However, if you have been charged with a crime, you will want to take the time to understand probation and how it may be a possibility for you. While your attorney will discuss probation with you in detail, here are some answers to some basic probation related questions:
What is probation?
When a criminal defendant pleads guilty or has been found guilty of a crime, probation allows the person to serve their sentence at home, rather than in jail or prison. A defendant who is placed on probation is usually assigned a probation officer that makes sure the terms and conditions of the defendant’s probation are followed.
What is meant by “terms and conditions” of probation?
Terms and conditions of probation are just another way of saying the rules that a defendant on probation must follow. Typical rules that a defendant may have to follow are based on the crime. For example, a person on probation for a drug charge may have conditions that include: abstaining from drug and alcohol use, obtaining drug treatment or other counseling, not picking up any new criminal charges, complying with law enforcement, not associating with known criminals, and submitting to random drug testing.
What is a deferred versus suspended sentence?
Probation is usually given in one of two scenarios. The first scenario is when the defendant pleads guilty to the crime, but the judge orders that the sentenced be “deferred.” With a deferred sentence, if probation is completed, the charge is dismissed. The second scenario is a suspended sentence, is different in that the person is convicted of a crime, but does not have to serve jail or prison time if he or she completes probation.
What can happen if I violate the terms of my probation?
What happens when a person violates any of the terms of his or her probation depends on the specific violation. If the violation was a criminal offense, then the person might face separate criminal charges. For example, if a person on a first-time drug offense, and is arrested for selling drugs, then he or she would not only be in violation of his or her probation—that requires him or her to abstain from drug and alcohol possession/use—but also be charged with a new drug offense. If however, that same person tests positive for drugs and/or alcohol during a random drug test, then or she could face revocation of probation or spend time in jail.
If you have are serving probation on either a suspended or deferred sentence and have been accused of violating the terms of that probation, it is important that you seek the immediate advice of counsel. Only a seasoned Oklahoma Criminal Defense Attorney can review the accusations against you and keep you from losing your probation. Do not make the mistake of waiting too long or choosing to represent yourself. At The Handley Law Center, our team of skilled Oklahoma Criminal Defense Attorneys will fight to keep you out of jail. To schedule a free and completely confidential consultation with one of our experienced attorneys, contact The Handley Law Center today at (405) 295-1924. You can trust The Handley Law Center to provide you with aggressive representation.