If you have been accused and convicted of a crime in Arizona, one of the possible penalties is probation. You should always speak directly to a criminal defense attorney in the event that you are facing probation, because compliance with the specific terms of probation is essential for avoiding further trouble down the line.

What is Probation?

Probation refers to a jail or prison sentence being suspended so that the convicted individual has the opportunity to stay in his or her community. If you are given probation terms, it is essential that you follow them to the letter. Violating probation could bring you right back to court for other immediate penalties, and it is in your best interest to complete your probation without any problems. Some of the most common conditions associated with probation include meeting with your probation officer regularly, completing community service, staying clear of alcohol or drug use, appearing in court if requested during particular times, or even staying away from particular locations or people.

What is Typical for Probation Length?

Although it depends on the crime committed and the judge in charge of the case, probation usually lasts from somewhere between one and three years. Some offenses, though, might carry a longer probation sentence. It is also possible to have the length of probation increased or decreased depending on how well you are performing on probation.  Consult with a criminal defense lawyer to be sure you know what is realistic.

What Happens if I Do Violate the Terms of Probation?

You can be accused of violating the terms of your probation if you break any rules that are a part of your sentence. If a violation is uncovered, your probation officer does have some discretion about the next steps. He or she can give you a warning or you may be notified of a requirement to attend a hearing related to the violation.  Minor violations, such as failure to pay fees or tardiness in reporting to the probation department, can be stacked up as used to show a pattern on poor performance and can be used to support a more serious violations as well.

If, after your probation violation hearing, it is discovered that you violated terms of your probation, you might have additional penalties or requirements as part of your probation. It is a good idea to speak with your criminal defense attorney to not only understand the terms of your probation from the outset but also to get a sense of how violations are handled.

What Does it Mean to Have Probation Revoked?

Having your probation revoked does not mean you are sent to jail by default. Like with many other matters, the judge has some discretion over what this will mean for your future. You might have more time added to your probation sentence, be required to pay higher fines, or be forced to seek treatment or counseling for a particular issue.  However, a probation revocation can result in the termination of your probation and the judge can then execute sentence and incarcerate you for whatever time is allowed by law.

Even though not all of these outcomes carry the same weight as jail time, you should be aware that with the judge’s discretion comes risk. You cannot always count on a punishment like more time added to the sentence or higher fines. Jail time is still a possibility. If you are given a sentence of probation, you should follow the requirements specifically and work to avoid trouble during this period. An experienced criminal defense attorney can help answer other questions for you about probation.

This blog should be used for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice.