In some situations, when you’re convicted of a felony, a judge might decide that instead of spending time in prison, you can stay home and be placed on what is referred to as felony probation. While there are always exceptions, felony probation in lieu of prison time is usually only considered for what are regarded as mild felonies or in the case of first-time offenders.
Anyone who is convicted of a felony that involves a violent crime such as murder and felony sexual assault will not be eligible for felony probation. If you have a history of violence, even if those charges were misdemeanors and you’re currently being convicted of a non-violent felony, a judge will be unwilling to consider felony probation.
The key to felony probation in California is that you have to adhere to all of the rules connected to the probation. Failing to meet a single requirement or doing something you were told not to do while on probation will result in you being sent to prison.
If the judge decides that you’re a good candidate for felony probation, you’ll hear the term suspended sentence. This term is used to provide formal notice that should you violate the terms of your probation, you’ll be sent to prison. Should you get into trouble while you’re on felony probation, not only could the judge decide to chose to sentence you to jail, you could also face additional criminal charges.
Don’t expect felony probation to be something you can just breeze through. Most felony probation periods last from 3-5 years. During this time, your life will be under intense scrutiny and there will several terms and conditions you’ll have to meet.
Conditions that are attached to felony probation often include:
- Regular meetings with your probation officer
- Drug tests
- Paying restitution to your victims
- Mandatory community service
- Submitting to home searches
- Avoiding people who are specifically mentioned in the terms of your probation
- Agreeing to not leave California
If you’re granted felony probation, it is in your best interest to pay careful attention to what the judge says. If you have any questions about the terms of your probation, you need to take those questions directly to your lawyer or probation officer. If you do make a mistake while you’re on felony probation, you should be honest about it, which could make a judge more tolerant and less likely to revoke your probation.