Just because you’ve been convicted, it doesn’t mean you will go to prison. While prison is always an option for felony convictions, there are times when the prosecution and judge feel that your crimes don’t justify you sitting in a cell for several months or even years. When this happens, they will consider the possibility of felony probation over a traditional prison sentence. The way California’s current felony probation program is set up, felony probation can be used for the entirety of the sentence, or it could be part of a deal for a shorter length of time spent in prison.
If you’re sentenced to felony probation, it’s essential that you understand you have not just been issued a get-out-of-jail-free card. Instead, there are very specific conditions and rules that are connected to the felony probation. Breaking any of these rules will result in your serving the rest of your sentence in prison.
While each case is different, most felony probations last 3-5 years. The conditions connected to the felony probation will vary from one case to another, but traditionally, the conditions you will have to adhere to include the following:
✦ Routinely reporting to an assigned probation officer
✦ Maintaining/actively seeking legal employment
✦ Not associating with known criminal elements
✦ Notifying the probation department of changes in employment, residents, and even vehicles
✦ Not leaving the state (and, in some cases, the county)
✦ Not owning or being in possession of firearms or ammunition
✦ Granting your probation officer access to your home
Failing to follow all the conditions of your felony probation will have serious consequences. While there have been cases of judges overlooking minor violations, those instances are few and far between. In most cases, the judge will either modify the terms of your probation, making the conditions even stricter, or entirely revoke your probation and order you to complete your sentence in prison.
It’s important to note that the judge is not required to grant felony probation. Factors that determine whether the judge will even entertain the idea include:
✦ The nature of the charges
✦ The circumstances surrounding the case
✦ Criminal history
✦ If injuries were sustained during the crime
✦ The defendant’s attitude toward the case