Probation can serve as a punishment for a criminal conviction. It is an alternative to a jail sentence for many. It can be part of a plea bargain and is usually court-supervised. Probation in Michigan is used for many reasons, such as a way for someone convicted of a drug crime to get clean or otherwise rehabilitated. It can also be used as additional punishment for someone who did time. Parole, on the other hand, occurs after a defendant is convicted and has served their minimum imprisonment sentence.
What Is Included In Probation?
Probation is not just a time where you have to talk to a probation officer every once in a while. There may be additional restrictions placed on the defendant during the probationary period, including but not limited to:
- Community service;
- Fines and costs;
- Writing essays;
- Court ordered classes;
- No contact with victims;
- No contact with people convicted of felonies;
- No driving;
- No assaultive or aggressive behavior;
- No leaving the state without written permission;
- No new criminal charges; and
- Obtaining and maintaining employment.
In addition to all of the above, you will be assigned a probation officer with whom you are usually required to maintain contact. If you fail to keep in contact, you will be violating your probation. Additionally, your probationary officer has the right to random visits to the defendant’s home and do a walkthrough. Unlike some other states, Michigan limits a probation officer to walking through the house and viewing only items in plain view. Unfortunately, for other household members, the walkthrough is typically not limited to the room in which the probationer stays because the owner generally has to sign a release prior to the probationer’s stay at the home.
Can An Officer Search My Home Because I Am On Probation?
Generally speaking, a police officer cannot use your probation to circumvent the justice system to search a probationer’s home. Unless the evidence is uncovered by the probation officer because it was in plain view during the home visit, police must still obtain a search warrant before they are allowed to search your home.
How Long Is A Probation Term in Michigan?
If you are convicted of a felony, you can be on probation for up to five years, which is likely being reduced to three years. If you have been convicted of a misdemeanor, you can be on probation for no more than two years.
Violation Of Probation
If you are charged with violating your probation by failing to comply with the terms and conditions of your parole, you will receive what is known as a show cause. The purpose of this document is to notify you that you are being charged with violating your probation. In addition, the document will direct you to appear in court and show cause as to why you should not be held in contempt of court for violating your probation.
Common Violations Of Probation
Some of the most common causes of probation violation include:
- Failing to complete community service;
- Failure to pay fines and costs; and
- Testing positive for drugs or alcohol during a random test.
Violation Of Probation Process
The first step is an arraignment, where you will learn the specifics of the allegations against you. You will also be asked to plead guilty or not guilty. If you plead not guilty, the case will be set for hearing on a different date at which the prosecutor will be required to call witnesses to establish that you failed to comply with the terms and conditions of your probation.
It is important to note that all of the rules of a criminal case are extremely relaxed during the probation violation hearing, including but not limited to:
- The burden of proof: The prosecution is only required to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that you violated your probation. A “preponderance of the evidence” means that you more likely than not violated the terms and conditions of your probation.
- Rules of Evidence: Hearsay is generally admissible, unlike in criminal trials.
- No right to a jury: In probation violation hearings, the judge will decide whether the prosecution meets their burden of proof, not the jurors.
If the judge finds that the prosecution met their burden of proof, you can receive a new sentence. The new sentence may include new or additional terms of imprisonment or modifications to your probation.
Michigan Criminal Defense Attorney
If you or someone you know is being charged with violating probation, it is recommended that you contact an experienced attorney to help with your defense. An experienced criminal defense attorney at George Law can help prepare an effective defense to ensure that you get the best outcome possible, depending on the circumstances of your case. To schedule a free, confidential consultation with an experienced attorney at George Law, contact us at (248) 470-4300 or online.