If you have already accepted a continuance without a finding (“CWOF”), pled guilty, or have been convicted of a crime it is likely that you have been placed on a period of probation in lieu of an incarcerated sentence, or may have a period of probation following your release from custody. Many defendants underestimate the importance of strict compliance with the requirements of their probation because their attorneys don’t spend the time required to emphasize what happens when you are placed on probation. That’s why it is important to understand the real life implications of a period of probation:
- As a probationer (person who has been placed on probation) you are under the supervision of the Judicial Branch of the Commonwealth, specifically the Probation Department. This means you have a probationer officer to whom you must report, and that person will be the initial person to determine if you have violated any of the terms or conditions of your probation;
- Your rights as a probationer are subject to infringement (meaning they are less protected than a regular citizen) by representatives of the Commonwealth by virtue of your acceptance of the terms of your probation contract;
- You may have specific requirements/restrictions placed upon you, such as: attendance at drug/alcohol programs or classes, random drug/alcohol testing, random home visits, wearing a GPS tracking bracelet, being prevented from associating with specific people, being prevented from going to specific places, being prevented from using certain forms of technology, being prevented from leaving the state, being required to pay hefty monetary fees, and being required to report to your probation officers at specific intervals or even on demand;
- If it is alleged you have violated your probation (even on the last day it was supposed to end) you can be: reprobated without additional penalty; reprobated but with additional probationary time and/or conditions; sentenced to jail/state prison for a specific period of time a suspended sentence), or sentenced to a period of incarceration up to the maximum potential penalties for the offenses for which you are on probation;
- Once a violation of probation is alleged the Court will conduct a two step hearing to determine if you have indeed violated the terms and conditions of your probation. During this process you are not protected by the concepts of innocent until proven guilty or guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Rather you are judged by the standard of probable cause, a standard much less advantageous to a defendant, and much easier for the probation department to meet. Defendants who would never have received a custodial sentence when the case was originally before the Court, are quite often shocked when the Judge in charge of hearing the violation of probation allegations incarcerates them at the first hearing, or at the conclusion of the second hearing.
As you can see, there are serious real life implications and potential consequences for someone on probation. Therefore it is important to have the advice of a qualified and experienced lawyer before you accept a term of probation to resolve a case, or if you are alleged to have violated your probation.
Call Attorney Rakhlin for a FREE consultation regarding the immigration issues associated with your criminal case: (617) 564-0466