Know Your Rights While Out on Probation in Alabama

When you’re sentenced for misdemeanor or felony charges in Alabama, your punishment will often include probation time. This period is an alternative to additional jail time that lets you serve your sentence at home and in public with certain restrictions in place.

Unfortunately, we know issues arise that could further put your freedom in jeopardy during this time. We handle probation cases where your rights are being violated and will help you fight for your freedom. You shouldn’t be forced behind bars when it’s not warranted, so it’s important to know what your actual rights are when you’re under probation.

Probation terms

In Alabama, you can face up to two years probation for a misdemeanor and up to five years probation for a felony. Your initial sentence can be shortened or lengthened under certain conditions, but the probation sentence cannot exceed these limits for a single offense.

If you’re given a sentence of 15 years or more, probation can not be included in your sentence. These guidelines apply whether you’re found guilty or enter a plea of guilty.

Working with your probation officer

When you’re placed on supervised probation, you’ll be assigned to a probation officer. These officers are in charge of making sure you aren’t violating the terms of your probation. They often have heavy caseloads and will be handling many cases at once.

Probation officers are required to make sure you are showing up to appointments with them, obeying the law, maintaining any court-ordered employment, education, reparation, or training, not using drugs or alcohol (you will likely be tested), do not possess any weapons, are following curfew, and have not traveled outside of the city, county, or state you’re restricted to. You will need to hold yourself accountable because drug tests, GPS tracking, DNA tests, and other monitoring will expose any lies you attempt to pass off to your probation officer.

What’s important to understand is while you shouldn’t avoid or refuse to work with your probation officer, they are not working FOR you. They work for the courts and are law enforcement officers who can and will arrest you if you’re found to be in violation of the law or the terms of your probation.

Hollywood has given people a skewed view of probation officers. They make them seem like your best friend and therapist who you can talk to about anything, but the truth is they’re looking for hints that you’ve slipped up and made mistakes. You should never tell a probation officer about a violation of the law before talking to your attorney first.

Violations could result in additional prosecution

A misconception that gets some offenders in additional trouble is assuming that “minor” violations in the law will only get you put back in prison as a violation of probation. In reality, any violation of the law could result in additional charges, prosecution, and punishment. It’s possible the courts go “easy” on you and just force you to spend the rest of your sentence in prison, but you should never bank on it.

The best way to defend yourself when you’re found to be in violation of your probation terms is to look at ways to mitigate the situation. Judicial rules in Alabama explicitly state that “if there are substantial reasons that justify or mitigate the violation and that may make revocation inappropriate” you may be able to continue the current terms of your probation with no additional penalty.

Even if you admit or are found through monitoring to have violated your probation, you still have the right to defend yourself from the claims. Let Attorney John M. Totten stand up for your freedom if officials claim you need to report to prison after violating your probation. Contact us and let us fight for you.

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