Misdemeanor Probation

Misdemeanor Probation
You don’t need a law degree to realize that some crimes are more serious than others—murder, for example, is far more severe than shoplifting. So it’s probably not surprising to learn that crimes are split into two categories: misdemeanors and felonies.  As the lesser offense, a misdemeanor typically carries a far lighter penalty than a felony, with one of the most common types of punishment often including misdemeanor probation.

The exact penalties a person receives for committing a misdemeanor crime will vary based on his or her prior criminal record, as well as the laws in his or her area. However, federal law states that a person convicted of a misdemeanor crime can spend no more than one year in jail. Therefore, most judges prefer to impose fines, community service, and probation in lieu of incarceration.

While probation is a far lighter sentence than jail, it certainly has its downfalls. Although you may remain a free member of society, you will be expected to follow certain rules while you are on probation. Many of these guidelines will be based on the nature of your offense. If, for example, you were convicted of drunk driving, you may not be allowed to consume alcohol. The judge may also suspend your driver’s license and/or require random alcohol testing as a way to monitor your alcohol use.

To ensure you follow all the rules of your probation sentence, the judge will usually assign a probation officer to your case. You may be required to check in with this individual regularly, as well as notify him or her of any changes in your personal life—such as an updated address, phone number, or job. You may even have to get your probation officer’s permission if you plan to travel outside of the court’s jurisdiction.

In addition to these guidelines, you will also be expected to comply with the laws in your area, and avoid contact with any person who has been convicted of a crime. The judge may also add other stipulations that he or she feels is necessary for your rehabilitation, such as attending a drug or alcohol program or performing community service.

Should you fail to follow the terms of your sentence, your probation officer may notify the judge who originally sentenced you. If this happens, a hearing will be scheduled to determine your guilt. Once the judge has reviewed your case and reviewed the evidence against you, he or she will make a ruling. If you are found guilty, the length of your probation may be extended or the judge may impose new guidelines. In some cases, your probation may even be revoked entirely and a jail sentence issued in its place.

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