An alternative to spending time in jail is spending time on probation. If you face conviction for committing a crime, it can be a great relief to receive a probation sentence instead of jail time. Probation means no incarceration, but you are not free from all penalties. You are still serving your time, only not behind bars.
To this end, probation generally comes with conditions and restrictions you must follow. These terms can vary from case to case, so you would be wise to make sure you completely understand what the court expects from you during the period of your probationary sentence. Otherwise, you may face new charges of violating the terms of your probation.
The conditions of your probation
Depending on the offense of which a court has convicted you, the terms of your probation might be quite specific, including paying retribution to anyone harmed during the commission of the crime or submitting to substance abuse counseling if drugs or alcohol played a part in your arrest. In general, however, most probation conditions require the following:
- Remaining in West Virginia unless your probation officer permits you to leave.
- Appearing for all scheduled appearances in court.
- Scheduling and attending regular meetings with your probation officer.
- Abstaining from drugs and alcohol and potentially submitting to periodic drug tests
- Avoiding anyone related to the offense related to you conviction or other people the court may designate, such as known felons
Your probation also includes the understanding that you will not break the law in any way and end up behind bars, and the court may deem even simple infractions, like traffic tickets, to be a violation of probation.
Have I lost my rights?
If police do arrest you, or your probation officer learns that you have violated the terms of your probation, the court will handle the situation in one of several ways. Your probation officer might simply issue you a warning if the violation is minor. On the other hand, you could end up back in court with your future once again in the hands of a judge, who has the authority to impose community service, extend your period of probation, or revoke it altogether and send you to jail, among other options.
Whenever you are dealing with the judicial system, you have rights, and that includes when you are dealing with allegations of violating your probation conditions. You have the right to know the details of the alleged violation, to present your own evidence in defense against the charges and to have legal representation throughout the process.