The Gift of Probation

When you’re convicted of a crime, you’re likely to be put on probation at the end of your case. A period of probation is always accompanied by what’s known as a suspended sentence, which consists of time you won’t have to serve if you successfully complete probation. This is why it’s so important to be aware of and understand all the obligations related to your sentencing. It may not feel like it, but when an Indiana Court offers you probation, you’re being presented with a gift.

There are some rules that tend to apply to all probation arrangements. For example, until your probation is complete, you won’t be allowed to legally possess a firearm. In all likelihood, you’ll also be prohibited from consuming alcohol, and you’ll be subject to random drug screens to make sure you’re taking your situation seriously.

The key to successfully completing probation is to stay in contact with your probation officer and to remain candid and honest with them. Your probation officer wants you to succeed—it’s more work for them if you don’t—so don’t give them a reason to file a violation against you.

Basically, probation is an opportunity for you to prove to the Court that you don’t belong in jail. The suspended portion of your sentence will not go into effect so long as you’re on probation. If you prove yourself unable to comply with the terms set by the Court, however, the police take you to jail, and your suspended sentence kicks in. It’s your attorney’s responsibility to explain the correlation between suspended time and probation, but it’s your responsibility to pay attention when this is happening. Don’t be afraid to ask questions!

The conditions of your probation are not suggestions—they’re requirements. As a result, there’s no such thing as a trivial probation violation. Any transgression can result in a formal notice of probation violation being filed with the Court. If this happens, the Court will set a date, and you’ll receive a notice to appear and answer for yourself. In some cases, a warrant for your arrest will be issued.

At the hearing, the Judge will decide whether your probation should be revoked. A partial revocation usually means you’ll be sentenced to a certain amount of time in community corrections, after which you’ll revert to probation. A full revocation means you get to start serving the duration of your suspended sentence.

While no violation should be regarded as minor, some are definitely worse than others. For example,  if you’re charged with a violent crime while you’re on probation, this will almost certainly earn you a formal violation. Likewise, if you’re on probation for a DUI / OVWI, and you pick up an additional DUI / OVWI, you’re going to have a difficult time convincing the Judge that you’re not a drunken menace behind the wheel.

When the Court is expecting strict compliance, a probation violation can be a serious obstacle. If you’re an Indiana resident who’s trying not to spoil the gift of probation, call the Marc Lopez Law Firm at 317-632-3642. We know we can help.