Facing misdemeanor charges in California results in several penalties, including misdemeanor probation sentences. You may face penalties due to your involvement in various crimes, provided the Penal Code has a probation option. Receiving probation sentences can benefit you, as they are jail-term alternatives. On the other hand, you must comply with the court's conditions to ensure you complete your sentence on good terms. Complying with multiple conditions and orders requires proper organization, and you can rely on a professional attorney to guide you through the probation program.
At The Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney, you will receive legal guidance to help you complete your misdemeanor probation sentence. Our team has the skills and experience you need to undertake the program, allowing you to return to your everyday life. You will also have access to legal representation if you face probation violation charges, and the assigned attorney will help prepare defenses. Our services are available to anyone seeking legal guidance on misdemeanor probation in Los Angeles, California.
What a Misdemeanor Probation Entails
A misdemeanor charge is less serious than a probationary one, and you will likely receive penalties as a first-time offender. Additionally, involvement in less serious offenses that do not cause harm or injury to others attracts misdemeanor penalties.
Since a misdemeanor offense does not involve irreversible dangers like death or serious property damage, you may receive a probation sentence instead of jail time. Misdemeanor probation sentences, therefore, apply as a substitute for standard jail and fine orders.
Among the main reasons for using probation sentences in place of jail terms is to reduce the number of incarcerated people, as it eases jail and prison populations. Due to this, judges handling misdemeanor cases may propose a probation sentence to help you return to your everyday life.
The Misdemeanor Probation Structure
The main purpose of probation is to allow you to regain your freedom under the court’s direct supervision. If you are on probation, you will be released from custody despite being guilty of a misdemeanor offense.
However, you must report your progress after release, specifically how you are reforming to avoid subsequent involvement in crime. A felony probation order requires you to work with a probation officer responsible for overseeing and conveying your progress reports to the court.
Direct contact with the judge makes you more vulnerable to scrutiny, so you must follow up with all issued orders to avoid violations. Additionally, you should seek the judge’s clarification if any instructions are unclear to avoid complications that may attract serious penalties.
The court’s scrutiny process involves receiving reports on your progress, whether oral or written. For example, if one of your probation terms requires mandatory therapy attendance, you may need to provide your therapist’s reports for all sessions. Similarly, oral statements are relevant if you are undergoing behavioral therapy, as you can describe the improvements in attitude you now display.
You can have your attorney accompany you in court as you make your periodic reports; their presence can be beneficial. For example, since they help you consolidate your progress reports, they can present a summarized version on your behalf if the court allows it. Your attorney also remains available for consultation, allowing you to present your concerns.
A misdemeanor probation sentence also requires you to actively participate in the community, seeking reintegration into society. You can request that your attorney suggest useful strategies to help you interact with people and rebuild your social skills as you seek forgiveness from the affected victims.
If you continue to make positive progress and observe all court directives, you can expect to complete the probation sentence with minimal setbacks. Further, the judge may reduce the probation duration, which may last up to five years, if they notice a significant behavioral reform.
The Main Goals of Misdemeanor Probation
The criminal system finds alternative ways to treat people convicted of misdemeanors, especially first-time offenders. You should therefore understand the goal of probation sentences and what you may gain from engaging in them. Having the information helps you make a suitable decision, as the judge may let you choose between undertaking probation terms or serving a jail sentence.
Some goals of misdemeanor probation are to:
Promote Your Reintegration into Society
While the presiding judge may find you guilty of a misdemeanor crime, you do not necessarily have to serve a jail sentence. Instead, you may receive a probation sentence to gauge your ability to reintegrate into society. Due to this, the judge will issue directives that require you to perform community-based services and issue restitution to the victims, among other objectives.
Allowing early integration back into your community is also advantageous to you because you have the chance to continue with your life. If you retain your business or employment after trial, the court encourages you to return to your duties as they continuously assess your participation.
You can also benefit from your access to your family and loved ones throughout the probation sentence, as you will remain home. This is highly advantageous compared to incarceration, where you spend time with restricted visitation rights behind bars.
Reduce Crowding in Jails and Prisons
From the criminal justice system’s perspective, misdemeanor probation terms are also effective because they reduce the population of convicted people behind bars. As a result, the government can redirect its resources to other projects to improve the community.
Based on this, you will also benefit from avoiding jail sentences that restrict your interactions with others and access to necessary amenities. Nevertheless, some parties may prefer serving a misdemeanor probation sentence because it is often shorter than a probation sentence, which lasts up to six months. You can discuss the terms of each option to decide on which is more suitable in your case.
Protecting Members of the Public
Although you can avoid incarceration when undertaking misdemeanor probation, you still operate under court-imposed restrictions. Court-based supervision ensures you do not expose other parties to harm by re-engaging in criminal activities.
Since you must report your progress to the court, you are less likely to participate in criminal activities, so the court protects the public by extension. Additionally, the strict repercussions of violating your probation terms also aim to deter you from participating in criminal activities that cause harm to others.
Misdemeanor Probation Terms
After the judge presiding over your case determines to apply misdemeanor probation orders to your case, they will issue terms to help you reform. The orders you receive are mandatory, meaning you must observe them or risk facing repercussions for violating the directives. Based on this, your criminal defense attorney should provide guidelines for meeting all court requirements for your benefit.
Some commonly issued misdemeanor probation terms include:
You Must Submit to Random Drug Tests
Many misdemeanor offenses involve drug abuse, sale, or distribution, making it necessary for the presiding judge to issue drug test orders. Making them random keeps you alert, as you cannot predict when you will have to undertake them.
After the court sends a representative to administer the drug tests, you must submit or risk violating your probation terms. Failure to adhere to the drug tests may indicate your likelihood of having abused drugs before, making it important to comply. After receiving your results, you can present them in the next court session to enable you to continue with probation.
Mandatory Attendance of DUI School Programs
Misdemeanor DUI offenders receive several probation terms focused on preventing their involvement in drunk driving in the future. Among them is mandatory attendance at DUI school, where you will receive guidance and correction for your DUI behavior.
DUI schools also provide important information, like the dangers of alcohol consumption in general and the severity of accidents caused by drunk driving. You will receive statistics on DUI-induced deaths and other losses; all meant to deter you from drunk driving in the future.
Avoid Breaking Additional Laws
Being on probation means you are under constant scrutiny, and any additional law violations warrant serious penalties. As a party trying to reform from your initial criminal conduct, you should avoid any unlawful engagements that may attract additional charges, as the judge may treat it as impunity under the law. Further, violating additional laws attracts harsher penalties beyond misdemeanor probation, so you may have to serve a jail or prison sentence.
Perform Community Service
As part of your reintegration into society, the court expects you to perform community service in an appointed area. The services range from working in an elderly home for a few hours per week to performing manual labor around the environment, like clearing bushes.
Since you are likely to perform community service activities in a group, you will have an accountability register that you must fill out every day for the required hours. Failure to meet the court’s threshold is detrimental, as it may be a violation. This is likely the case, especially if you lack a justifiable reason for missing your community service hours.
Pay Restitution Fees to the Victims
Some offenses cause serious damage to the victim’s property, health, and overall well-being. They require substantial amounts of money to repair the damaged property and seek medical treatment in the event of injuries. For example, you may cause an accident from a misdemeanor DUI that damages someone’s vehicle and exposes them to injuries.
Paying restitution is an important form of reconciling with the aggrieved party, which is the first step in your social integration. The court hears the victim’s claims and orders you to pay a reasonable amount as compensation for your wrongdoings.
Attend Individual and Group Therapy
Therapy may also be crucial for your reform, especially if you suffer from drug addiction or compulsive behaviors that result in criminal offenses. Due to this, the judge assigns individual and group therapy sessions to help you overcome any mental and physical barriers to attaining overall well-being.
During the sessions, you will work with a skilled professional who aims to help you address any issues you face. Their input is beneficial if you are open to fully recovering, so you must attend the sessions consistently. The therapists handling your sessions may liaise directly with the court to report on your progress. Alternatively, you may obtain their information and present it to the court.
Have an Ignition Interlock Device Fixed in Your Vehicle
DUI offenses also attract additional restrictive guidelines, like installing an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) in your car. The device connects to the car's engine and measures your blood alcohol levels. If your levels exceed the recommended percentage, the device locks your engine, making driving impossible. The goal is to prevent you from committing another DUI offense until the probation period lapses.
Attend All Court Sessions
Your follow-up court sessions are mandatory, as the judge uses this time to assess your progress. Missing your court appearance without proper justification is unlawful because it impedes justice. When preparing for the court sessions, you should also prepare the progress documents you intend to present to persuade the court of your improvement.
If you have valid reasons to miss court appearance sessions, like medical grounds, your attorney may stand in for you and present the details. They may also alert the court about your situation in advance and request that the judge postpone the hearing to avoid facing the consequences.
Work Under an Employment Contract or Resume Your Education
The court needs reassurance that you will adhere to all probation terms without exposing yourself to distractions that may pull you back into criminal engagement. You may therefore have to present proof of employment or resumption of education to keep yourself busy during your probation session. If you find it difficult to secure a job, you can request additional time to undertake your searches without incurring other penalties.
What to Expect After Violating a Restraining Order
If the presiding judge receives information about your probation order violations, they will authorize your arrest by signing a bench warrant. Police officers can rely on this document to take you into custody pending a hearing. The judge authorizes arrest because violating probation terms is a criminal offense like any other crime.
After arrest and booking at a police station, you may request release on bail as you await your court appearance. The judge may grant or deny bail depending on the severity of your actions that amounted to a violation. For example, if you committed a new offense involving kidnapping and hurting victims, you are less likely to exit jail on bail pending a hearing, as the offense is serious.
Once you appear in court, the judge hears your case and determines whether to impose punitive measures or reinstate your original probation terms. They rely on several factors to decide on the most suitable course of action, including:
- Whether you violated the probation terms on a technical basis.
- Whether you had been following probation terms before the violation.
- The nature of your actions was found to violate probation terms.
- Whether you are a first-time offender.
If your case involves a serious probation violation, you can expect the judge to cancel the probation sentence and reinstate jail and fine punishment. You will thus have to serve time in jail for the initial offense you committed, as guided by the penal code. The judge may also enhance your sentence if you commit a second crime as a violation of your probation terms.
Alternatively, the judge may enhance your probation terms by introducing stricter directives than before. The increased strictness should deter you from breaking additional rules in the future. If your violation was made minor on technical terms, the judge may order you to continue with your initial probation sentence but with a warning on future non-violation.
Contact a Criminal Defense Attorney Near Me
You must understand the penalties when you or a loved one faces misdemeanor probation. Obtaining the information is necessary to guide you throughout the probation period, making you less prone to violating the regulations that the courts impose. A misdemeanor probation sentence requires you to regularly check with the court and update them on your reform progress. The presiding judge expects consistent check-ins, making it essential for you to keep track of your records. Since handling these obligations can be challenging, you can work closely with a criminal defense attorney to guide you. Their main goal is to enable you to complete your probation terms without facing additional legal repercussions.
At The Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney, we aim to provide excellent criminal defense services tailored to meet your needs. Our team understands the obligations you face under misdemeanor probation, and we are determined to help you navigate them. Additionally, you can count on us to provide sound legal advice regarding misdemeanor probation violations and help you prepare defenses to support your position. Our criminal defense services are available to all clients facing misdemeanor probation charges in Los Angeles, California, and we remain open to handling your matter expeditiously. For more information on how to navigate misdemeanor probation, call us today at 310-564-2605.