For those who have never been convicted of a crime, it is easy to think of probation as a mere slap on the wrist. But nothing could be further from the truth.
While probation is definitely better than incarceration, it is still a perilous balancing act between repaying a debt owed to society for wrongdoing and maintaining personal freedom. If you have been sentenced to probation for a crime in California, it is vital that you understand that your freedom comes at a price, and that you must always pay that price in full and on time.
Common Probation Conditions
California criminal courts are given wide latitude when it comes to the sentencing for many crimes. In crimes where probation is available, judges can impose any number of conditions upon your probation. This means that although you are not in a jail cell, you are still not free to do anything you please. If you fail to meet the conditions of your probation, a judge could terminate your probation and sentence you to the jail or prison term for the crime you committed.
Here is a typical list of what these conditions might be:
- Restitution: The court may require you to pay either the victim or the state for damage you caused, thefts you made, or any other expenses others incurred as a result of your wrongdoing. Generally, you may make these payments in installments with the court’s approval.
- Employment: Research indicates that people are less likely to commit crimes while they are employed. In keeping with that research, and in order to guarantee that restitution payments are made, the court may also require that you remain employed throughout your probation.
- Drug/Alcohol Treatment: Probation is often granted for drug or alcohol related crimes, such as driving under the influence or possession of a controlled substance. Generally, you can expect that if you are convicted of a crime involving drugs or alcohol, the court may require you to enroll in a treatment program, and require that you submit to random drug testing.
- Zero Tolerance for Alcohol: In DUI cases, there will always be a probation condition that forbids you from driving with any measurable amount of alcohol and/or drugs in your system. This might also include the requirement that you, at your own expense, install an ignition interlock device (IID) on your car that will prevent the car from starting should you fail the system’s breath test.
- Mandatory Breath/Blood Tests: Furthermore, DUI probation will require that you submit to a chemical test of your blood or breath upon suspicion of another DUI. Under this condition, your refusal to submit to these tests will be considered a probation violation.
- Search Warrant Waiver: You may temporarily lose your rights under the Fourth Amendment to be free from warrantless searches and seizures. This means that at any time, the police may search your person or your property without your consent and without having to follow the normal procedure of obtaining a search warrant, or without having to justify the search as being valid due to probable cause.
- No Contact With the Victim: The court will often make it a condition of probation that you refrain from contacting the victim of your crime, or from coming within a certain distance of their person, home or workplace. This is common in domestic violence cases, but may be a condition of probation for any crime in which another person was harmed.
- Community Service: It is common in many cases that the court will impose a requirement that you spend part of your time in service to the community. This usually takes the form of picking up litter at beaches, parks or roads, but it may also take the form of requiring you to serve in a homeless shelter or youth center.
Call a Criminal Defense Attorney Right Away
The list of probation conditions you may be facing could be lengthy and difficult to understand. If you are facing probation, or are already on probation and have questions about the conditions of your probation, you have the right to speak to an attorney who can answer those questions. At Wallin & Klarich, our skilled team of attorneys has been successfully helping clients like you for over 30 years. We know that probation is a serious matter, and we do our best to counsel clients to a successful conclusion to their probation.
With offices in Orange County, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Bernardino, Torrance, West Covina, Sherman Oaks, Victorville, Riverside, and Ventura, there is an experienced Wallin & Klarich criminal defense attorney available to help you no matter where you are located.
Contact our offices today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free phone consultation. We will be there when you call.