Understanding Probation: Are You Eligible for It?

  • 2022-05-18

New Mexico is one of the states with the highest crime rates in the U.S. The crimes take place in various cities, such as Albuquerque, Santa Fe, Las Cruces, and others. So, if you’ve been the culprit in any crime in Albuquerque, for example, you may want to look into an Albuquerque criminal defense lawyer

If you are sentenced in a criminal case, then a pre-plea report may be created in order to help the court figure out if you are suitable for probation. A probation officer will look through the documents and prepare them, but even a psychologist or social worker may draft them. 

But what exactly is probation? You may be confused by this term and wonder what it means or how probation could affect you. Well, keep reading to find out the meaning of probation and whether you are eligible for it or not.

What Is Probation?

Probation is a sentence that the court imposes as a jail alternative. When someone has to go through a probation sentence, they will be allowed to go home, and will also have halfway house or residential treatment facility access and an approved residence. To get a probation sentence instead of jail time, the defendant will have to agree to respect specific rules. 

The rules are also called “conditions of probation”, and they can be different from one offender to another depending on the crime they committed. Some of the most common conditions for probation include:

- Counseling

- Drug treatment

- Monthly reports to a probation officer

- Court costs and restitution payments

- Not committing new crimes

- Not leaving the country or changing residence without the probation officer’s written permission

- Curfews

- Reporting any law enforcement interaction

Of course, these are just some standard probation conditions. When a more serious crime has been committed, the conditions will be stricter. An offender will be able to avoid jail by abiding by the conditions and not causing trouble. Anyone who doesn’t abide by the conditions will deal with a violation of probation. 

What Makes Probation and Parole Different?

Many people mistake probation and parole for each other because after all, they both come as imprisonment alternatives. However, the two are different. 

With probation, part of the sentence imposed is the probation, and could be in lieu of prison or jail or may reduce the amount of time the offender spends behind bars. Usually, probation may last anywhere between 6 months and 10 years, depending on how severe the crime was. If the defendant has been abiding by the laws, he/she may even move the court to give them a probation term reduction.

On the other hand, parole is given to someone by the parole board. It is granted once the offender has been in prison for a certain amount of the sentence and has now become eligible for parole after some reviews. When an offender has a determinate sentence, they may be put on parole when they are released from prison, and the same applies if a certain amount of time was already served. 

Who Is Eligible for Probation?

Whether someone is eligible for probation or not will depend on various factors. Some of them include:

- Whether a firearm was used or not

- How serious the crime was and what the circumstances were compared to similar crimes

- Financial loss to the victim of the crime

- How vulnerable the victim was

- How sophisticated the crime was

- The amenability of the defendant to following the terms and conditions recommended

- The criminal record of the defendant, including juvenile record

- How impactful the incarceration was for the family and dependents of the offender

Your attorney could offer some arguments to help you obtain probation after the sentencing hearing. 

Who Isn’t Eligible for Probation?

Not all criminals will be eligible for probation. Some factors that could affect eligibility include:

- If the felony probations and the current conviction of the offender are found under PC 1192.7 or PC 667.5

- If the offender has been previously convicted for any serious felony under PC 1192.7 or a violent one under PC 667.5

- If there were specific sexual offenses committed under some aggravated circumstances

Final Thoughts

If you’ve been convicted of a crime and your lawyer thinks you are eligible for probation, they will try to argue in court that this is a better option for you. Of course, whether you will be put under probation or not will depend on the prosecution. Some serious crimes might not make you eligible for probation – so, before getting your hopes up, check the eligibility criteria.