Informal v. Formal Probation- IE-Criminal Defense

What is Probation

Probation is granted for a person upon the conviction of a criminal case. You are given certain terms to complete with Probation, such as classes, fines, jail or community service, among others. This is only available in misdemeanor and certain felony cases. You cannot get Probation in a traffic ticket or otherwise any infraction cases.

Probation is essentially the Court being able to monitor your actions, either directly or indirectly, to make sure you complete your terms of Probation, as well as you don’t violate any new laws. If you are sentenced to State Prison, you are not granted Probation when you are released, you are instead granted Parole, or a modified version of Probation, know as Post Release Community Supervision, which is similar to Probation, but is considered part of Parole. There are two kinds of Probations. Formal and Informal Probation that will be explained below.

Informal Probation

Informal Probation, also known as Summary Probation, is a grant given to people convicted of Misdemeanor offenses. You cannot get Informal Probation with a Felony conviction, that is only a grant of Formal Probation. For informal probation, you do not have a probation officer, or any person you check in with. You simply have to complete whatever terms of Probation you have to do, and you cannot violate a new law. Violating a new law is only applicable to new misdemeanor of felony offenses. You cannot violate your probation by getting a traffic ticket. Informal Probation generally always last between 3 to 5 years. However, if you do not violate Probation, you could potentially file a motion to have your Probation Terminated early under PC 1203.3.

A good example of informal probation is in a DUI case. In that situation, you are generally subjected to a 3 year or 36 month Probationary period. It can be up to 5 years, but that is usually for multiple DUI offenses, not your first. You would also be subject to a fine that can be from $2,000 to upwards of $10,000, and more if there is an accident. You would also be required to take DUI classes that can go from 3-months to 18-months, depending on your DUI offense. Finally, there is usually a requirement for jail or community service, depending on the facts of your case and where your DUI case is located.

These would be considered the terms of your informal probation that you have to follow. If you fail to do any one of those terms, you would be in violation of your probation, and subject to arrest.

Formal Probation

Formal Probation is only available to be in Felony cases. This means, if you plead guilty to a felony charge that does not send you to State Prison, then you could possibly get Formal Probation as part of your agreement. Generally, a felony case can land you in State Prison for a minimum of 16 months, and longer based on the charges, your criminal history, and the facts of your case. However, your attorney can also argue that you deserve an opportunity on Formal Probation, which would eliminate the need for you to be sentenced to State Prison for the crime.

Formal Probation is not always available in felony cases, and some charges are specifically written such that a person cannot get Probation if they plead guilty to that charge, such as Murder. For formal probation, you would be subject to some of the terms above, but generally you are dealing with more jail time as a part of your conviction. You would also be given a Probation Officer to monitor you, and for you to check in with.

Generally, you report to Probation after you enter your plea agreement. You check in, give them your information, such as where you live, your phone number, etc. This allows Probation to do random Probation checks on you to make sure you are living or working where you say you are. You sometimes can only need to check in monthly, if not in later increments as your Probation period continues. Sometimes these check-ins can be by phone, or even kiosk at the Probation office.

Generally, there are other restrictions you have on Formal Probation, such as you cannot associate with other people who are known felons, you cannot own or possess any dangerous or destructive devices, and must notify probation if you intend to leave the state with 24 hour notice. Some other charges, such as violations of Child Pornography, you can also be subject to computer and internet restrictions during your time on Probation.

What Happens If I Violate Probation?

You could be subject to serve the maximum time in custody for the offense. So for a DUI charge, if you violation probation, you could be sentenced to six months in County Jail. If you are on Formal Probation for a violation of Domestic Violence, you could be sentenced to 4 years in State Prison for a violation. More information regarding Probation Violations can be found here.

Call Today

Probation can be a tricky rule of law to follow based on all of the restrictions you must follow. It can sometimes be as simple as your credit card expiring that you are using for your monthly fine payments that can lead to a violation. Knowing the difference in Probations and what you are required to do, better sets you up for your situation, and avoids any potential miscommunication and unneeded violations. Call your local Ontario Criminal Defense Attorney today at the Inland Empire Defense 909-939-7126. Located in Ontario.