Formal probation is also known as felony probation. It is a possible sentence handed out by the court when a defendant is facing felony charges. Formal probation is a potential alternative to a jail or prison term.
When on formal probation, a convicted felon has the possibility to continue living in their home and working. However, there are strict rules which the person on probation must follow in order to maintain their freedom.
Your chances of avoiding jail time and receiving a probation sentence increase greatly with an experienced criminal defense lawyer on your team.
Formal Probation vs. Informal Probation
There are two main types of probation that a person might receive during sentencing for a crime.
Formal probation can be awarded when the defendant is facing a felony charge. There are also situations in which certain misdemeanor charges can result in formal probation. The conditions and supervision of those on felony probation are quite strict.
Informal (or summary) probation is granted when the charge is a misdemeanor. Informal probation is far more relaxed and offers more freedom to the person on probation.
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Formal probation is supervised. Those who receive this probation sentence are required to report to a probation officer regularly. There are often several other conditions to a felony probation sentence. The conditions imposed by the judge will depend upon the specifics of the crime.
Conditions of Formal Probation
The conditions attached to your probation can vary significantly and are assigned at the discretion of the judge. Some judges occasionally choose to impose more creative conditions that are unique to the specific situation. However, most of the time, they will stick to common probation conditions.
Depending on the offense, these may include:
- Attend various classes
- Take regular drug tests
- Complete community service
- Avoid any criminal activity
- Pay restitution
- Consent to searches by law enforcement
- Restricted travel rights
Formal probation offers the possibility for rehabilitation without incarceration. A judge will grant probation when they deem it appropriate and believe that this option is more likely to set the defendant on the right path than time in prison.
Cost of Formal Probation
In addition to possibly paying restitution to any victims of the crime for which you have been convicted, there are other costs associated with formal probation. Those on formal probation must pay a monthly probation fee. This fee is used to:
- Pay the probation officer
- Pay for drug testing (if applicable)
- Pay for an ankle monitor (if applicable)
How Long Does Formal Probation Last?
The typical term for a formal probation sentence is three to five years. The specific length depends upon the crime and the severity of the charges.
Who Is Eligible to Receive Formal Probation?
With many felony convictions, there is no option for formal probation. For serious offenses, including murder and rape, there are mandatory prison terms. Additionally, there are many people that the probation department deems not suitable for probation due to their criminal history or past violations during previous probation.
The probation department submits their evaluation to the judge, and in most cases, the judge will follow those recommendations.
Informal probation does not require you to regularly report to a probation officer. Like formal probation, there are many conditions attached to an informal probation sentence as well. However, generally speaking, as long as you stay out of trouble and attend any classes and community service to which you have been assigned, your life will not change too drastically.
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How a Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer Can Help You Win Your Case
When you have been arrested for a felony, it is important to have experienced legal representation. A criminal defense lawyer will greatly increase your chances of avoiding a conviction. When a conviction is unavoidable, your attorney will still likely be able to get your charges and or sentencing reduced. This reduction may include receiving formal probation.
Contact the Simmrin Law Group today to schedule a free, no-obligation case evaluation. You can get started by filling out our online contact form or giving us a call. A member of our team will review your case and advise you of all of your legal options.