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Probation: A Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help You Negotiate Better Conditions

Probation is not a “get out of a jail/prison free” card. Your jail or prison sentence is suspended, not ended. The sentence is still in effect, but as long as you follow all of the probation requirements, you may serve your sentence outside of a jail or prison.  Probationary conditions can vary greatly in the number of requirements, the length of time and the amount of supervision.  A skilled criminal defense attorney can often negotiate for better (lighter) conditions during the pre trial plea bargaining phase.

Eligibility for Probation

Probation can restrict your freedom and last a long time.  However, the alternative is jail or prison, so you want probation if the judge will allow it.  You may be eligible if you are convicted of a misdemeanor or a felony charge like possession of marijuana.  Being convicted of a violent felony or two felonies would probably eliminate the possibility of probation.

Supervised and Unsupervised Probation

Probation can be supervised or unsupervised. With supervision, a person will be monitored by a probation officer. With unsupervised probation, the offender does not have to meet with the officer. It is up to the judge to decide how long your probation will be, the requirements, and the degree of supervision.  The amount of supervision is important because with supervised probation, you must check in with your officer for every scheduled meeting. If you miss a meeting, you could risk having your probation revoked and being sent to jail.

Negotiating Probationary Conditions

As a criminal defense attorney, I have negotiated pleas that reduced the defendant’s probationary period or reduced the probation from supervised to unsupervised.  Even after the plea bargain phase, it is sometimes possible to modify the conditions. I always tell my clients that if they have received supervised probation, they should follow all requirements to the letter. Then after a year’s time I can possibly get the probation changed to unsupervised.

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