What is the Difference Between Formal & Informal Probation in California?
Probation is the suspension of a jail sentence, granted by a judge to a defendant who the judge feels is capable of serving out a jail or prison sentence at home. Probation in the state of California can be either formal or informal, and may depend on the judgments or sentencing given.
Understanding Probation Terms
- Formal probation requires a defendant to register with the Adult Probation Department of Orange County, and then the defendant will be assigned a probation officer who will supervise the probationary term.
- Informal probation, on the other hand, does not require registration or supervision. Instead, the main condition is that you must obey all laws during the term of your probation.
In addition to following the law, the terms of your probation could include:
- Mandatory weekly meetings with a probation officer
- Requirement that you remain free of drugs and alcohol
Probation should be viewed as a privilege and not a right, because many defendants in criminal cases are not given the option of probation. If you have been granted probation, you are required to behave according to those terms. Otherwise, a judge can rule to revoke probation during a hearing.
How Can I Violate Probation?
The following are some of the most common ways that probation is violated:
- Failing a drug or alcohol test or refusing to submit to these tests
- Failing to pay a fine or court fee
- Failing to appear in court or check in with the probation officer
- Failing to comply with a court order
- Committing another criminal offense
- Failing to complete mandatory community service hours
If you violate your probation, you will be issued a bench warrant, arrested, and/or detained until a probation revocation hearing is scheduled. Obtaining probation means that you give up your right to a jury trial and the right to a speedy trial. Instead, you may be held in jail for months until your violation hearing.
There are several ways to discover that a probation violation has been filed against you:
- You may receive a letter from the Orange County Clerk's Office advising you that a warrant has been issued for your arrest and you need to appear in court, or you may receive a warrant delivered by an Orange County Sheriff at your home or work.
- In other situations, your probation officer may arrest you when you report to your check-in, or you may be arrested if you are stopped for a vehicle code violation.
The Law Office of Jacqueline Goodman Probation Legal Counsel
Probation can place heavy demands on your lifestyle, and many defendants have problems conforming to these strict demands, which can last for months or years at a time. Probation cases in California typically last three years, but longer terms are possible as well. If you successfully complete your program requirements, you may be able to petition for your probation to be terminated after two years. If you violate your probation, however, you may be at risk of even greater penalties.
Violation of your probation is a serious matter that should be treated as such, and you need the best criminal defense lawyer on your side. At the Law Offices of Jacqueline Goodman, we are prepared to defend your rights today and we have the experience and resources you need to achieve the best outcome possible.