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What happens if I'm sentenced to probation?

If you are facing criminal charges, a criminal defense attorney can assist in numerous ways. From explaining the specific charges being brought against you to the possible penalties you face; an attorney will often push to obtain a dismissal of criminal charges, a reduced sentence or probation.

If you are sentenced to probation, you can avoid going to jail. You must, however, comply with a series of court-ordered conditions for a set period of time. Upon being sentenced to probation, you'll be assigned a probation officer who will oversee your case and work to ensure that you are complying with the set terms of your probation. If, at any time during your probation period, you are believed or found to be in violation of the conditions related thereto, it's important to seek legal advice.

While it's up to a judge to set the terms of your probation, conditions including abstaining from drugs and alcohol, avoiding subsequent arrests, staying away from certain locals or people and making all probation-related meetings and appearances are commonly enforced.

If you violate or are believed to have violated the terms of your probation, your probation officer will take disciplinary action that may range from an official warning to requiring that you to appear at a probation violation hearing. In cases where the latter applies, again it's important to have a criminal defense attorney by your side.

At a probation hearing, the prosecution will attempt to convince a judge that you violated your probation. Additionally, evidence of past violations or criminal wrongdoings may also be introduced and used as evidence against you. At the same hearing, you also have the right to "present evidence and witnesses to support your case."

If you are found guilty of violating the terms of your probation, a judge will determine the penalties. For example, the duration of your probation period may be extended or you may be ordered to attend some type of corrective training or class. The worst case scenario often involves the revocation of probation in which case a judge would order you to "serve the remaining terms of your original sentence in prison."

Source: FindLaw.com, "Probation FAQ," Feb. 16, 2016

FindLaw.com, "Probation Violation," Feb. 16, 2016

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