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Felony and Misdemeanor Probation in California

Felony and Misdemeanor Probation in California

Under California law, there are four different forms of correctional supervision someone charged with a crime could face – parole, jail, prison, and probation. When a judge is determining how to sentence someone convicted of a crime, they will take input from the probation department, the defendant’s attorney, and the district attorney.

Since the California Community Corrections Performance Incentives Act was passed in 2009, county probation departments have been encouraged to keep people under community supervision rather than send them to state prison. That, along with the considerably lower cost of probation compared to other forms of correctional control – according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) budget, probation costs $4,438 per person per year, parole costs $10,182 per person per year, jail costs $38,650 per person per year, and prison costs $59,919 per person per year – means that probation is the most commonly used form of correctional control in California.

Misdemeanor Probation in California

There are two types of probation in California, broken up by the severity of the crime committed. The first is misdemeanor probation, which can be an option for someone charged with a misdemeanor felony or with a wobbler. Also known as summary or informal probation, this option can be offered to someone who is deemed to not be a danger to their community.

Summary probation typically lasts between one and three years but can last up to five years, and the person on probation will not need to check in with the probation department or with their probation officer on regular dates, though the court may monitor progress by setting periodic court dates to ensure that the person on probation is complying with the terms of their sentence.

The terms will be set by a judge depending on the crime and on the person’s criminal history – for example, someone convicted for a DUI may need to complete alcohol treatment and education – and may include:

  • Obeying all state and federal laws
  • Giving up possession of firearms
  • Complying with a restraining order
  • Completing a set number of community service hours
  • Paying restitution to any victims
  • Attending a treatment program
  • Completing educational requirements

Felony Probation in California

The second type of probation in California is felony probation, also known as formal probation, which typically lasts between three and five years. This type of probation is far more restrictive than summary probation – someone charged with formal probation is required to register with the Adult Probation Department, in most cases within two days of being released from jail or prison.

In addition, someone on formal probation will be assigned with a probation officer that they will be required to meet with at regular intervals throughout the duration. In many cases, the initial meetings will be close together, typically on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. The amount of time between meetings may be increased if the person on formal probation demonstrates that they are capable and willing to follow the terms of their probation. The way these meetings are held can also vary, from phone calls to meetings at a set location to meetings at the person on probation’s home so that their probation officer can come and inspect their living situation.

Similar to summary probation, the terms of the formal probation will be set by a judge depending on the crime and on the person’s criminal history. The terms could include any of the terms listed in the misdemeanor probation section, as well as:

  • Requirement to wear a GPS tracking device at all time
  • Submit moving or travel plans for approval to their probation officer
  • Take random alcohol or drug tests

Both misdemeanor and felony probation is conditional, which means that if the person on probation violates any of the terms set by the court, that privilege will be revoked and they will be sent back to prison or jail to complete the remainder of their sentence.

Getting Expert Legal Representation

If you were charged with a crime, you need to reach out to and hire experienced legal representation as soon as possible. At Premier Criminal Defense, LLC, our San Diego criminal defense lawyers have a deep and thorough understanding of the law and will work with you to fight for the legal outcome you need. Call us at (619) 304-9190 to discuss your case over the phone today, or send us the details of your situation through our online form, and a member of our firm will reach out to you as soon as possible.

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