What happens when you are on Probation?

criminal-photo-bullets-199x300Often a criminal defendant will hear these words that they are being placed on probation. What does not mean? It sounds ominous but is it? Does it actually help you get out of jail or set you free from the court system.  It does both and can be a peace of mind to the criminal defendant seeking to terminate criminal proceedings and head out of the courtroom free from further court proceedings that have impeded him or her for several months of their lives. Usually there are two types of probation.  One is formal probation whereby you are on a strict supervision by a probation officer representing the court. Or you are on Informal probation whereby the Court takes a less strict approach to watching you after the Court proceedings.

On formal probation the defendant has often found themselves in a serious situation and often has been convicted of a felony.  If not convicted they have negotiated a pleas deal that uses formal probation as a tool supervise and monitor the defendant while they are not in jail or under the watch of the court system like court dates to attend. If a person has been convicted of a felony in the state of California which means they have faced potential prison time or a maximum of a county year in jail.  Once the defendant leaves jail or somehow avoided it all together they must follow the strict formal probation terms set by the court. A probation officer will be assigned to your case.  And yes they carry weapons and act like they are police officers.  And in a way they have a lot of authority like police officers to arrest you and take you back to jail. Formal Probation usually requires that the defendant report to the probation officers office monthly or however, the terms of probation are laid out in the sentencing form.  They must also make sure the officer has their current address. In addition, sometimes there is a restriction on travel which means the defendant cannot leave the state or county sometimes.  It can be very restrictive.  Moreover, there might be a further restriction such as stay a way from the location where the crime occurred or restrain from doing an activity that the defendant was found guilty of in court.

Informal probation on the other hand is less severe as formal probation.  The defendant is not appointed a probation officer to look over him or her.  he may be able to leave the state and travel freely.  The only serious effect is that once on probation if you commit another crime while on informal probation it can be charged as a separate crime.  That means that not only will the defendant be charged with the current crime such as burglary for an example but also violation of probation.  That can enhance the potential penalty for the charges. So although the informal probation seems innocuous for a plea deal, it can bite you in the end if you become careless and think that informal probation really was not that serious.