A lot of people assume that getting sentenced to probation for a felony is a slap on the wrist, and that life has handed the person accused of the crime a tremendous break. The truth is that felony probation is not as easy as it seems, and although it is definitely easier than the spending years in county jail or state prison, felony probation can be very challenging if you do not know what you are agreeing to do.
What Is Felony Probation?
Felony probation (also called “formal” or “supervised” probation) is a program that allows you to serve your punishment for a felony conviction outside of the custody of law enforcement. Instead of a prison sentence you serve your time by going about your daily life, but with new responsibilities. This will include periodic meetings with a probation officer, and may include attending mandatory counseling sessions and paying of fines and fees.
If you fail to meet the terms and conditions of your felony probation, the judge can revoke the probation and impose the suspended sentence that you would have received at the time of your conviction.
Pros and Cons about Life on Felony Probation
If you are given the choice to take felony probation, you should give serious consideration to the offer. The single greatest advantage is that you get to go home and, for the most part, you get to live your life as you had before for the next three to five years. You control when and what you eat, when you sleep and wake up, and how you spend your free time.
However, there are many potential pitfalls if you do not pay attention to the terms and conditions of your probation. The threat of incarceration is always present, because you can still go to prison if you violate probation, even if you do not break another law. You will have to pay for your supervision, even if that eventually becomes meetings with your probation supervisor by phone or video conference. If you have counseling as part of your probation, you must attend the sessions.
Life under probation also means that you are not completely free. Your ability to travel or move to another city or state may be restricted by your probation terms, and you will have to get approval in advance from your probation officer. Your home and person can be searched without a warrant. Furthermore, you may violate your probation by associating with known felons. This means that some friends or family that also have felony convictions may not be able to meet with you or talk to you during your probation period.
Am I Eligible for Felony Probation?
Before sentencing you to felony probation, the court will require the county’s probation department to submit a probation report. The department will investigate your case and make a recommendation to the court about your eligibility. This includes a recommendation on the length of the program and the conditions you will have to fulfill.
The probation report is only part of the criteria the judge will consider in determining your eligibility. He or she will also look at the facts of the case, the type of crime you were charged with (violent or non-violent), whether your crime involved a weapon, your prior record, and other factors to determine if you deserve the chance to serve your time outside of jail or prison.
Can I Expunge My Conviction After Felony Probation?
Once you complete your probation, you may be eligible to petition to have your felony reduced to a misdemeanor conviction, and then expunged from your record. Whether you will be eligible for that will depend on the crime for which you were convicted, how well you performed the terms and conditions of your felony probation, whether you have paid all fines and fees associated with your case, and other factors.
Whether you case can ultimately be removed from your record is in the court’s discretion. That is why hiring an experienced criminal defense attorney can go a long way toward a successful petition for expungement.
Contact the Criminal Defense Attorneys at Wallin & Klarich For Help with Your Case
If you or someone you care about is facing felony probation for any crime, you will need an experienced an aggressive attorney to help you understand the terms and conditions of your probation. At Wallin & Klarich, our attorneys have been defending clients against misdemeanor and felony charges for more than 40 years, and have experience. Let us help you, too. Contact us today for a free, no obligation consultation.
With offices in Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, Los Angeles, San Diego, West Covina, Torrance, and Victorville, there is an experienced and skilled Wallin & Klarich criminal defense attorney available to help you no matter where you are located.
Call us today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free phone consultation. We will be there when you call.