What You Need to Know About Probation in Your Criminal Case

Metal Probation StampIf you have been charged with a misdemeanor or felony offense in North Carolina, you face serious punishments that can include a jail or prison sentence and a large fine. However, depending on your criminal history and the circumstances surrounding your crime, you may have a better alternative. You may be eligible to be sentenced to probation instead of incarceration.

What Is Probation?

Probation is a less severe type of punishment than being sentenced to jail or prison. When a judge sentences a defendant to probation, he will impose certain conditions and rules that must be followed during a specific time period.

In addition, the judge may impose a suspended jail or prison sentence during the term of the probation. If the individual violates the terms of his probation, he could be ordered to serve the suspended sentence or face other serious consequences.

Two Types of Probation in North Carolina

North Carolina follows a complicated sentencing system based on a defendant’s prior criminal history. Probation can be ordered as part of an intermediate or community punishment, which is less serious than active punishment that includes a jail or prison sentence. There are two types of probation in our state:

  • Supervised probation. Supervised probation is an intermediate type of punishment. A person placed on this type of probation would be assigned a probation officer and would be required to meet with the officer at set times during the term of his probation.
  • Unsupervised probation. Unsupervised probation is only an option when a defendant is eligible for a community punishment sentence. When someone is placed on this type of probation, he is not required to meet with a probation officer.

Rules That Must Be Followed While on Probation

The rules that a judge will impose when sentencing a person to probation will depend on the specific facts in his criminal case and his prior conviction history. For example, if an individual is convicted of a drug crime, he may be ordered to undergo periodic drug testing. When the crime is gang-related, the defendant may be required to have no contact with gang members.

There are also more general conditions that are frequently imposed in Charlotte when someone is sentenced to probation. Common rules that must be followed include:

  • Meeting with a probation officer at all scheduled appointments
  • Attending any required court hearings
  • Paying any fines, treatment program fees, and restitution that is ordered as part of the judge’s sentence
  • Staying away from certain individuals or groups of people
  • Not traveling outside the state without the permission of a probation officer
  • Obeying all laws—including traffic laws
  • Not consuming drugs or alcohol
  • Submitting to drug or alcohol testing on a random or regular basis
  • Being confined to house arrest or being required to wear an electronic device
  • Not possessing firearms
  • Maintaining a job or enrollment in school

What Could Happen If You Violate the Terms of Your Probation?

The consequences of a probation violation will depend on the nature of the violation, its severity, and your history of other probation violations. If you are on supervised probation, your probation officer could have an impact on what happens to you. Here are some of the potential consequences:

  • You could be issued a warning.
  • You may be required to attend a probation violation hearing.
  • The judge could impose additional conditions for remaining on probation.
  • Your probation term could be extended to up to five years.
  • Your probation could be terminated with no additional terms being set.
  • You could be found in contempt of court and ordered to serve a 30-day jail sentence.
  • Your probation could be revoked, and you could be ordered to serve a jail or prison sentence.

Have you been charged with a crime or violation of probation in Charlotte? Our experienced criminal defense attorneys can build a strong defense strategy for you, so you achieve the best possible outcome in your case. To learn how we can help, start a live chat to schedule a free consultation today.