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Castle Rock Criminal Defense Attorneys

Probation in Colorado

When there is a conviction in a Colorado criminal case, the judge will sentence the defendant. Jail or prison is always an option for the judge, even on a first offense. Probation is the judge’s alternative to jail, and the best outcome for the defendant. In some very minor offenses, it may be possible to resolve the case without probation as part of the sentence, but that is the exception rather than the rule. Probation is the defendant’s opportunity to remain free and out of jail or prison. If a defendant is “granted” probation, they are given this chance at freedom, provided that they abide by court-ordered terms. These terms always include not picking up any further offenses while on probation. The terms of probation may also include performing public service work, abstaining from drugs or alcohol, paying fines and court costs, getting a mental health evaluation, and reporting to a probation officer.

The judge will consider several factors when deciding the appropriate sentence in a criminal case. The most obvious factor is whether the defendant has prior offenses, and in particular, whether they have prior offenses just like this one. If the defendant is facing sentencing in a theft case, the judge will pay particular attention to prior theft convictions. Having priors is an indication to the judge that your previous punishment from the criminal justice system was not punitive enough to prevent this type of act from happening again. Other factors the judge will consider include the wishes of the victim in the case, what the district attorney is recommending, and whether the judge thinks that you are a danger to the community or another person. The judge will also consider whether punishment is deserved, and whether that punishment will make the defendant more unlikely to offend again. The judge may also consider what is best for the defendant, and what sort of rehabilitation will improve the defendant’s future path in life.

Your Castle Rock criminal defense attorney will present mitigation on your behalf to the district attorney, and try to persuade them to soften their recommendations to the judge regarding sentencing.

Probation is intended to “rehabilitate” the defendant. The requirements imposed upon the defendant during probation are intended to prevent the offenses from happening again. In a domestic violence case, probation will include domestic violence education and therapy. In a theft case, there may be theft classes, and so on.

Community Services Hours

Probation will often include the condition that the defendant complete “Useful Public Service,” or “UPS.” These are volunteer hours performed as a means of giving something back to the community after a criminal offense. Some convictions carry mandatory useful public services hours. Often, a defendant is required to choose from a list of approved programs or organizations through which to perform these service hours. Generally, these lists of options are expansive, offering a wide variety of choices.

Probation may be thought of as the court’s control over the defendant, or in legal terms, the judge’s “jurisdiction” to enforce the requirements the court has imposed. When probation ends, the court no longer has this control over the defendant. If probation is “supervised,” the defendant must answer to a probation officer. The probation officer will oversee the defendant, ensuring that they are in compliance with all of their requirements. If probation is “unsupervised,” the defendant does not have to answer to any probation officer, but may be required to complete their requirements and then provide proof directly to the court that the requirements have been completed.

Sexual Assault Probation

Probation for sexual offenses is particularly demanding. If you are charged with a sex crime in Colorado, it is especially important to have a criminal defense attorney that specializes in these specific types of cases. Attorney Josh Landy is an expert sexual assault defense attorney with extensive experience in this very specialized field. To learn more about the probationary requirements for sex crimes in Colorado, please visit our Sexual Assault page.

Domestic Violence

There are mandatory sentencing guidelines for Domestic Violence convictions in the State of Colorado. Josh Landy and Kevin Churchill have extensive experience defending domestic violence cases, and can advise you about the potential requirements that probation will include. For more information about this, please visit our Domestic Violence page.

Probation Revocation Hearing

When the defendant fails to comply with one or more terms of probation, it may lead to the probationary sentence being revoked, and the defendant being re-sentenced to jail or prison. If the probation officer believes that the defendant is noncompliant with probation, they may file a “complaint and report” with the judge that issued the probationary sentence. This will likely result in the court setting a “probation revocation hearing” on the court’s docket. Failure to appear at this hearing will result in an arrest warrant.

Reasons that a person may have their probation revoked include, but are not limited to, failing to maintain abstinence from alcohol or drugs, failure to complete the required education, failing to complete useful public service hours, or simply not reporting to the probation officer.

Proof by a Preponderance of the Evidence

At a probation revocation hearing, the judge does not need to find that there is proof beyond a reasonable doubt that a defendant failed to comply with probation. The judge only needs to find that it is more probable than not. In legal terminology, this is called proof “by a preponderance of the evidence.”

If the judge revokes your probation, they could sentence you to prison or jail. Your Castle Rock criminal lawyer will try to convince the prosecutor and the judge that there is a better alternative, and that jail in not necessary. An alternative to imposing incarceration is for the judge to revoke and re-grant probation. During this second chance on probation, the defendant may face additional requirements and conditions, such as additional public service hours or additional rehabilitation programs. The duration of probation may be reset to the beginning. For example, someone given 12 months of probation may be revoked at the 6 month point, and told that they must begin the 12 month probation sentence over again.

A Douglas County criminal defense attorney will help maximize the chances that the judge will be lenient and provide the defendant with a second chance that does not include a jail or prison sentence. An experienced attorney will know which issues are going to be most concerning to the judge, and which arguments are most likely to keep the defendant out of jail.