If you have recently been convicted of a crime and the judge assigned you to serve probation, you may have questions about the process and what you have to do to avoid violating your probation and incurring further penalties.
What exactly is probation?
At the most basic level, probation is way to avoid more serious consequences (i.e. jail time) if you are convicted of a crime. It allows you to retain certain freedoms, such as living in your own home, while being supervised by your probation officer.
However, you will need to closely follow a number of court-ordered conditions to avoid violations so that you can remain on probation and stay out of jail. In Illinois, you will work with the Social Service Department if you were convicted of a misdemeanor. If you were convicted of a felony, you will work with the Adult Probation Department. These departments enforce the legal conditions of probation.
What kind of conditions?
Typical Probation Conditions in Illinois
The length of your probation sentence varies based on the offense. Probation sentences for certain misdemeanors may last a few years, while probations for certain felonies may last a lifetime.
You will need to adhere to several conditions while you are on probation. These conditions may include the following:
- Visit regularly with your probation officer
- Be present at court proceedings
- Seek prior approval for traveling out of state
- Follow all municipal, state, and federal laws
- Stay away from people or places as mandated by the court
- Pay restitution to victims
- Provide samples for alcohol and drug tests
- Stop illegal drug and alcohol abuse
Most likely, you will also perform acts of community service.
Depending on your offense, some of these conditions will take precedence.
For example, if you have an alcohol-related offense, you will likely be required to submit to regular blood alcohol content testing, and you may be required to enter a rehabilitation program for addiction.
You may be able to get out of probation early if you meet certain requirements and if the offense permits early release. In most cases, you must serve no less than one-third of your probation sentence before applying.
Additionally, you must have fulfilled all requirements of the law and of your probation. For example, you must not have had any arrests or failed drug tests. You will need to pay all restitution, complete service hours, and finish courses of treatment or counseling.
The judge has full discretion on granting early release. However, you improve your chances by following all probation conditions.
What if you are unable to meet the conditions and end up violating your probation?
How Probation Violations Work in Our State
If your probation officer notices a violation of your terms, he or she may issue a warning. If the violation is deemed serious enough in the eyes of your probation officer, you will be required to attend a hearing addressing the violation. If the judge agrees that you violated your terms, penalties will ensue.
Several things could potentially occur at this point:
- You may be able to stay on probation but face more restrictive terms.
- If your original probation is revoked, you may receive a new probation with a longer term than the original sentence.
- You could be required to pay steep fines.
- The judge may order to you attend a counseling or treatment program.
- Finally, it is possible that you might be required to serve jail time.
Questions about your case? Contact a skilled Chicago criminal defense attorney for a free case review.
About the Author
Sami Azhari has been working as a lawyer since 2007, after receiving his Juris Doctor from the Michigan State University College of Law. He has handled numerous state and federal cases, and is known throughout the Chicago and Rolling Meadows area for providing his clients with high-quality, skilled representation. He has been recognized by SuperLawyers, the National Trial Lawyers Association, and other notable organizations, and has spoken at a number of legal conferences.