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Types of Probation in California

by Lindsay Chambers

If you commit a crime in California, a judge might put you on court-ordered probation, either after serving jail time or in lieu of serving a sentence. While some offenders are not eligible for the offer of probation, others who qualify can remain in their communities if they agree to meet specific conditions. California has two primary kinds of probation – formal and informal.

Formal vs. Informal Probation

Informal probation, also known as unsupervised probation, is for low-risk offenders. If you are on unsupervised probation, you will not need to report to a probation officer. Instead, you must pay fines and pledge not to commit any additional crimes during your probationary period.

Formal probation involves a stricter set of requirements, and failing to comply with them will result in incarceration. People on supervised probation must regularly meet with a probation officer who is responsible for ensuring they remain on the right track. They must also stay employed, participate in random drug and alcohol screenings, attend counseling and financially compensate anyone they’ve harmed.

Under California Penal Code Section 1203.3, you may request a modification of the terms of your probation at any time. For instance, some judges are willing to change supervised probation to unsupervised probation after several years of law-abiding behavior. However, if you violate any of the terms of your probation agreement, you may have to go back to court, and a judge can subsequently decide to send you to jail.

Other Types of Probation

Depending on the offense you commit, a judge may order you to complete one of these specific forms of supervised probation.

  • Crime-specific probation: People on crime-specific probation will need to follow terms that pertain to the offense. For instance, people arrested for drug-related crimes may have to undergo mandatory substance abuse counseling and submit to drug testing. Sex offenders must enter their names in a public registry as a condition of their crime-specific probation.
  • Shock probation: A judge who believes you are likely to learn from the experience may sentence you to shock probation, which involves a brief period of incarceration. After a stay in jail or prison – typically between 30 and 90 days – you can return home under the supervision of a parole or probation officer.
  • Community control: In addition to fulfilling all other probation requirements, people in a community control program must constantly wear an ankle monitor that displays their location throughout their probationary period. Community control is essentially house arrest for more severe or repeat offenses. Your community control officer can set a schedule that may allow you to leave your house during designated periods to go to work or attend to other responsibilities, such as doctor’s appointments. If you have been on community control for a while and you have no violations, you may want to consider asking a judge to consider a less restrictive form of probation. 

Orange County Probation Modification Attorney

People who have demonstrated good conduct and a willingness to change their behavior for the better may be well-qualified for probation modification or termination. As experienced Orange County attorneys, the team at the Law Office of Ronald G. Brower will help you navigate the process. If you are ready to learn more about our services and areas of expertise, please contact us today to schedule a consultation.

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