Questions Answered About Felony Probation in California

May 16, 2022 by Seppi Esfandi in California  Criminal Defense  
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California Felony Probation

Not all individuals facing criminal charges are going to end up in jail. In some cases, when an accused is convicted, they may be sentenced with probation, which means they can serve all or part of their sentence out of a jail cell. Probation is available for both misdemeanor and felony offenses. If a defendant commits a felony offense and they qualify for probation, the defendant will be sentenced to felony probation.

1. What Is Felony Probation?

Felony probation, which is also known as formal probation, is a type of alternative sentencing an eligible defendant can get for committing a felony offense in California. When a defendant is sentenced to formal probation, they get to serve part or all of their jail sentence out of custody and likely do some form of community service.

To be able to receive felony probation, the defendant has to agree to adhere to certain conditions mandated by the court. One of the main conditions is that the defendant has to report to a supervisor throughout their probation. Supervision is one of the main things that differentiates felony probation from misdemeanor probation. So as long as the defendant honors the conditions mandated by their formal probation sentence, they can stay out of custody.

2. Who Is Eligible For Felony Probation?

Several factors determine whether a defendant is eligible for felony probation or not. A judge will take all these factors into consideration before deciding whether a defendant qualifies for probation.

These factors include:

  • The seriousness of the felony crime committed
  • The defendant’s criminal record
  • Whether the defendant was armed while committing the crime
  • If the accused caused injury to others
  • The number of financial damages the defendant caused
  • The effect of imprisonment on the accused

Thus, taking all this into account, the judge will have the final decision on whether to grant the accused probation or not.

3. What Are Common Conditions of Felony Probation?

As stated earlier, for a defendant to be able to get felony probation, they must agree to adhere to some conditions demanded by the court.

Some of the most common conditions used for felony probations in California include the defendant having to:

  • Report to the probation officer monthly
  • Submit to drug or alcohol testing
  • Perform in the community service assigned to them
  • Actively participate in counseling
  • Pay any restitution or fines they owe
  • Agree to refrain from breaching any laws
  • Successfully complete any program order by the court (like anger management programs or a batters’ intervention program)

You should know that these are just some of the conditions a judge can demand while finalizing your formal probation. They may defer from state to state. Plus, a judge can also choose which requirements to make so long as they are sensible and are reasonably related to the felony done.

4. Who Pays for a Probation Officer?

One of the main conditions mandated by felony probation is that the defendant has to report to a probation officer every month. Your county is usually responsible for providing the probation officer in charge of the defendant’s supervision. Thus, this county will charge the accused a monthly fee for the supervision it provides that allows the defendant to stay out of custody.

5. Can My Felony Probation End Early?

Yes. The California Penal Code 1203.3 PC grant judges the right to end felony probation early. However, for this to happen, the defendant needs to have served their probation term for 18 months, successfully completed the terms of their probation and did not violate any condition during this period.

Plus, the petitioner also has to show that the defendant successfully completed the terms of their formal probation and that there are substantial elements that justify the early end of their probation.

6. What Happens If a Defendant Violates Felony Probation?

If an accused breaks one of the conditions demanded by the formal probation. They will be considered in violation and could be facing several consequences. Therefore, the court will hold a probation violation hearing to decide the defendant’s fate.

During the hearing, there can be three outcomes. The judge can choose to:

  • Reprimand the defendant and reinstate their probation
  • Alter the defendant’s probation and place more severe conditions
  • Cancel the accused’s felony probation and have them taken into custody

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December 3, 2019
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