Legal Issues

Proclamation on Probation

Probation!  A sentencing order many defendants in a criminal case hope for.  An order many judges consider a defendant’s lenient chance to prove oneself.  A curriculum funded by both public and private entities and individuals profiting from such.  The logistical and practicality society requires.

When a criminal sentence is handed down, a court may suspend prison and even jail time with the condition that a defendant complies with probation.  Most judges will ask a defendant to agree to the conditions as terms of probation instead of sentencing the maximum amount of “hard time.”  Probation may consist of fines, classes, community service, days in jail, and so forth.  When convicted of a crime, be it through trial or acceptance of a plea deal, a defendant is often offered a stay in the execution of the maximum amount of jail or prison time, which most defendants opt for.  There are three types of probation:  court probation, private supervised probation and probation by the Utah Adult Probation and Parole agency.

Court probation requires the court to track the progress of the defendant’s completion of the court ordered requirements.  This is the least intrusive type of probation for a defendant, requiring neither monthly fees nor check-ins with probation officers.  Because this form of probation is so tolerant, however, it is generally deemed unsuitable for most cases involving felonies.  If such a determination is made, the question then becomes whether the accused should be privately supervised by an independent probation organization, or publicly supervised by a state agency.

There are many privately funded probation organizations throughout the states; these agencies generally require a monthly fee, have the defendant check in periodically, report progress and violations to the courts and recommend to the court how these reports should be handled.  Utah has addressed whether these types of probation agencies should be able to handle the assessment of a defendant, present opinions on the type of treatment necessary for rehabilitation, treat defendants and report to the court the recommendation for future handling of the defendant.

Arguably the most accredited public probation agency in Utah is the State and Federally funded Adult Probation and Parole.  Probation through this agency can be transferred to different States through the process of interstate compact and is affiliated with many helpful programs and agencies given the public funding.

Obviously, not every case merits the need for publicly funded supervision, as it imposes a burden/punishment on either the public or the defendant, and occasionally on both.  During sentencing, a Judge will make the decision on this determination, so it is always important for any defendant to comprehensively understand which – if any – probation terms they are accepting.

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