In California, when someone is convicted of a crime, whether felony or misdemeanor, the Judge has the discretion of imposing probation in lieu of jail time, or in addition to jail time. There are sentencing guidelines that a judge uses when imposing a sentence, but, the Judge may elect to allow you to remain free if you agree to be on probation and following the terms and conditions of the of the probation. There are two types of probation, summary or informal probation and formal probation. The following is an explanation of how each works.
Summary or informal probation is usually associated with a misdemeanor conviction. It is much less restrictive in that you do not have to report to a probation officer and the terms and conditions usually involve very common sense guidelines. For instance, if you are placed on informal probation for a petty theft, the terms of the probation may include staying away from the establishment where the theft took place, along with standard orders to obey all laws and not get into trouble.
Here is another example of the terms and conditions of informal probation. If you were convicted of a misdemeanor hit and run with property damage, the terms of probation would probably include the following:
Violate no law.
Obey all orders, rules, and regulations, and directives of the Court, Jail, and Probation.
Submit your person and property including any residence, premises, container, or vehicle under your control, to search and seizure at any time of the day or night by any law enforcement officer, probation officer, or mandatory supervision officer with or without a warrant, probable cause or reasonable suspicion.
Do not drive without a valid driver’s license in your possession.
Do not drive without proof of valid auto liability insurance or financial responsibility as required by law.
Use true name and date of birth only at all times.
Disclose terms and conditions of probation when asked by any law enforcement or probation officer.
Pay mandatory state restitution fine pursuant to Penal Code 1202.4 or Penal Code 1202.4(b).
Pay $40.00 Court Operations Fee per convicted count pursuant to Penal Code 1465.8.
Pay Criminal Conviction Assessment Fee per convicted count of $30.00 per misdemeanor/felony and $35.00 per infraction pursuant to Government Code 70373(a)(1).
Pay restitution in the amount as determined and directed by Victim Witness as to count(s)
As can be seen from the above examples, informal probation can be successfully completed with out much effort. So why then do some end up with probation violations on misdemeanor probation? Usually this is due to simply forgetting to make a payment or, in situations where you are ordered to attend a class, like in a DUI case, maybe the class isn’t completed in time. These types of mistakes will trigger a probation violation and result in a warrant. When this happens, it is important to get it taken care of as soon as possible so as not to end up being arrested on the warrant. A good criminal defense attorney will be able to have your probation reinstated, often times without having to admit to a probation violation, with little or no consequences. Informal probation usually lasts for three years but can be as long as five years.
Formal probation or as it is sometimes referred to, felony probation is ordered when someone has been convicted of a felony. There are two major differences between formal and informal probation. They are: 1) You must report to a probation officer and 2) If you violate your probation, the judge can send you to state prison.
When you violate your felony probation, the Judge may elect to send you to state prison for the maximum term, which is typically 18 months or longer. However, this depends upon the offense you were originally convicted on.
So, whether you are on formal or informal probation, if you find yourself in violation of that probation, it is extremely important to contact an attorney who can assist in getting your reinstated to your probation and preferably, without having to admit to the violation. This will increase your chances of having your matter expunged once your have successfully completed your probation.