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Is Probation a Possibility for a Felony?

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Probation is part of a sentence for a crime that most offenders must complete instead of spending time in jail or after a jail term. It allows the convicted criminal to live in a community for a specified amount of time, usually under the supervision of a probation officer. The true essence of probation is the court’s ability to have continued power over the criminal. The probationer must obey all laws and court orders, report regularly to the probation officer and sometimes avoid going to certain places or seeing certain people. 

Probation is possible for both misdemeanors and felonies; however, the amount of time the criminal is required to serve is much greater for felons than for those guilty of a misdemeanor. The average felony probation time depends greatly on the specific crime committed; however, an average amount of time is five years, compared to one-to-three years for misdemeanors.

Exceptions

Felony probation varies from state to state, which means some states impose certain exceptions regarding crimes that are eligible for probation, including:

  • Robbery
  • Murder
  • Certain sexual assault offenses
  • Crimes involving injury to a child

Time Frame

The time frame involved with felony probation is often much longer than that of a misdemeanor probation case. A felony probation period typically ranges from three to five years; however, many felons have the option of seeking a reduction in probation time after serving about half the time. Whether or not one qualifies for such a reduction depends on good behavior, going above and beyond the probation requirements, and having no violations during this time. One way to facilitate this process is community service.

Misdemeanor vs. Felony Probation

One of the main ways in which misdemeanor probation differs from felony probation lies in the amount of involvement the criminal must have with his or her probation officers. Courts usually place misdemeanor probation offenders on informal probation with periodic or no scheduled meetings with a probation officer. As long as the offender avoids breaking the law while on probation, he or she typically does not hear from his or her probation officer.

A felon on probation, however, usually has formal meetings with a probation officer, during which the officer verifies where the felon is living and with whom. The probation officer also discovers where the felon works and details regarding his or her work schedule.

Consequences for Violation

Violating felony probation is a serious offense that can result in severe consequences. The probation officer is responsible for bringing additional charges against a felon if he or she violates the terms of probation. Such consequences include time in prison, extension of the probationary period, and additional fines.

For more information on felony probation, it can be helpful to consult with a criminal defense attorney. Since probation laws vary depending on the case, an attorney can prove invaluable in making sense of all potential options.

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