“Probation” is the term used to describe the set of conditions imposed on a person convicted of a crime. In almost all cases that result in a conviction, the court will impose a set of rules and conditions to be followed for a certain period of time. This is especially true with domestic violence convictions. Many of these conditions are a review in this sections and can be split into two kinds: affirmative and prohibitive. Affirmative conditions are things like payment of fines, completion of treatment programs, meeting with a probation officer. Prohibitive conditions are things like not having contact with the victim or family and not committing any criminal law violations. Compliance with these conditions is monitored by a probation officer or a probation department.
Whether a court has a probation department or not is largely a function of the jurisdiction you are in and the resources available to that court. Larger courts tend to have fully staffed probation departments in charge of maintaining contact with the defendant after sentencing, monitoring compliance with sentencing orders and informing the court of any potential violations. In smaller jurisdictions, often times probation is simply monitored directly by the court and court staff. Regardless of the situation, rest assured that in cases that result in a domestic violence conviction, someone is monitoring compliance.
Courts that do utilize probation departments, in most cases, have the defendant report directly to a probation officer. In these cases, maintaining a positive relationship with the probation officer can be vital. Probation officers are like dogs. There are good ones and bad ones. The good ones are helpful and try to make your life easier. They provide you with the proper resources to succeed and so long as you are trying, they remain faithful to you. Bad ones will bite you at the first sign of provocation, whether that provocation was intended or not. As with dogs, you can not tell what kind of probation officer you have by sight alone. Treat them all carefully and with respect. Be proactive in completing the assigned tasks. Maintain contact with them as ordered. Because if you have to attend a review hearing to answer to a charge of non-compliance, the recommendation of your probation officer is given a great deal of weight by the court.
If there is an allegation by “probation” that there was a violation of either the affirmative or prohibitive conditions set forth by the court at sentencing, the court will be notified and most likely a review hearing will be set. At this hearing, you will be made to answer to that allegation. If the allegation can not be proven or you are otherwise found to be in compliance, you will likely just be sent back to probation for continued monitoring. If an allegation of non-compliance is proven, the court can order additional sanctions such as jail, fines, community service, additional treatment, no contact orders, etc. Never go into one of these hearings unrepresented. Whether you hire private counsel or a public defender, make sure you are represented at any review hearings. Bad things happen to the unprepared in these situations.
If you have questions about your probation or are in need of representation at a review hearing, contact Milios Defense to speak with a Washington domestic violence lawyer for a consultation.