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When the court convicts a domestic violence defendant of a domestic abuse crime, part of their sentence may involve probation. Probation is an alternative form of sentencing that allows you to serve your sentence outside of jail or prison. It serves three purposes: protecting the public, restoring the victim, and rehabilitating the offender.
A person convicted of a misdemeanor domestic violence offense may face summary probation, while a felony offender may face supervised or formal probation. In both types, the defendant must report to the probation department and abide by a strict set of rules outlined in the terms and conditions of the probation sentence. Breaking a rule is considered a violation of probation, which may lead to new criminal charges.
Two Types of Probation in California: Summary and Supervised
Only a judge can decide whether to grant probation when determining an offender’s sentence. Probation is often considered a favorable sentence because, for the most part, offenders can avoid jail or prison and still repay their debt to society. Probation may involve several demanding requirements, however, so it’s not an “easy way out” of your punishment.
There are two types of probation in California, and the one you may be sentenced to depends on whether you were convicted of a misdemeanor or felony offense.
Summary Probation for Low-Risk Offenders
If you’ve been convicted of a misdemeanor domestic violence crime, you may be sentenced to summary probation. A person on summary probation is generally deemed to be at low risk of reoffending. This type of probation may allow the offender to serve most or all of his or her sentence under supervision.
Summary probation may be ordered for one to three years, although it is possible to be on probation for up to five years in California. Domestic violence offenders on summary probation may be required to:
- Attend counseling
- Complete a 52-week batterer intervention program
- Participate in community labor
- Perform community service
- Spend part of their sentence in jail
- Pay court fines
- Fulfill any other conditions imposed by the court
Summary probation does not involve strict supervision. Offenders must complete the terms of their probation by specific deadlines that the county probation department gives them. They must report their progress directly to a judge instead of meeting with a probation officer. As long as all terms of probation are fulfilled on time, and the offender doesn’t reoffend, he or she will not face further criminal charges.
Formal or Supervised Probation for Felony Offenders
Formal probation imposes much more strict requirements on offenders. Although it allows felony offenders to stay outside of prison, they are under the strict watch of their designated probation officers. Formal probation, which is sometimes called felony probation, may last between three and five years. During the probation period, offenders may be required to adhere to the terms and conditions, which may include the following in addition to the terms outlined for summary probation:
- Reporting to their probation officer regularly
- Paying restitution to victims
- Submitting to random drug tests
Felony probation may also include restrictions on travel. An offender on probation who wants to move will need to request permission from the court. If the probationer wants to go out of town, their probation officer will need to approve the request.
Offenders on probation must also agree to comply with any protective orders the court may have issued and to avoid committing future crimes. Otherwise, they will need to attend a probation violation hearing. During this hearing, the court will determine whether the offender committed a probation violation. Since a probation violation is a criminal offense, it’s critical to seek representation from a San Diego criminal defense lawyer to stand up for you in court.
Preparing for a Probation Violation Hearing
If you’ve been accused of violating probation, you will need legal representation to deny the accusation or to explain why you committed it. Your hearing will take place in front of a judge instead of a jury. Although the judge will most likely be the same judge who issued your sentence, there is a possibility of having a different judge, meaning that he or she may need to be educated on the details of your case.
Your attorney can provide evidence that you did not commit a violation to the judge or a compelling reason for why you did. If you have a new judge, he or she may be prone to deciding an unfavorable outcome, which may be avoided with the help of a probation violation defense lawyer on your side.
Challenge Domestic Violence Accusations with Dod Law
Whether you’ve been accused of domestic violence and face a court date or are already on probation for a conviction, you deserve quality representation from an attorney who understands the complexities of domestic violence in the courtroom. Attorney Dod of Dod Law has dedicated 17 years of his career to defending clients facing criminal charges and has resolved several domestic violence cases. He can help you protect your reputation and preserve your rights. Learn how he can aid your domestic violence case by calling 619-814-5110 or completing our contact form for a free consultation.