If you get in trouble with the law and wade into the waters of the criminal justice system, you may face probation instead of jail for your crimes.
What is probation? How is it violated? Most importantly, what can happen if you violate it? Read on to find out what you need to know if you’re serving a probation sentence in Colorado and what comes next if you violate its terms.
Colorado Probation: What Is It?
Probation is a court-ordered sanction. People are put on probation when they’re found guilty of a crime in court. It allows them to stay out in the community to serve their sentence, which is why you may also hear it sometimes referred to as “community supervision.”
When on probation, you are assigned a probation officer to monitor you and make sure you don’t violate the terms you agreed to with the courts.
Probation is not something available to every convicted person — there are some offenses that require a prison sentence instead. All the more reason to take the opportunity to serve your time outside a prison cell.
Probation is typically ordered for first-time offenders or those who are considered low risk. The purpose of probation is to rehabilitate the defendant while protecting society.
It’s also a way to give people a chance to prove that their legal problems may have been a fluke that isn’t going to lead them to a life of crime.
Common Conditions of Probation in Colorado
The conditions of your probation are set by a judge in court. Conditions are certain criteria you must meet and activities you must participate in while you are on probation.
They can vary from person to person and case by case, but there are a set of general conditions that tend to be assigned to the majority of probation sentences. The most common conditions of probation include:
- Paying fines
- Turning over ownership of any weapons you own
- Completing community service
- Participating in counseling or drug treatment
- Meeting regularly with the probation officer
- Maintaining employment
- Paying restitution
- Restricting places you can go or people you can see
- Taking drug/alcohol screening when requested
Again, the terms of your probation are at the judge’s discretion and will typically address rehabilitation or punitive measures for the crimes you have been convicted for.
Colorado Has Two Types of Probation
In this state, you will be placed on one of two different types of probation. They are:
- A type of probation where you serve time in jail and then are placed on probation after you are released. In many cases, the time you serve in jail can be shortened and your sentence completed with probation.
- Participating in probation instead of going to jail. As long as you follow the conditions of probation, you can skip any jail time associated with your crime.
Common Probation Violations Among Coloradoans
The ways a Coloradoan on probation can violate their terms are many, but generally speaking, when you don’t do what you’ve been asked, you are considered in violation. The most common probation violations are:
- Failing to complete counseling or community service
- Missing meetings with a probation officer
- Failing to find a job or maintain employment
- Failing to appear at any scheduled court hearings
- Leaving the county or state without the consent of the court
- Committing other crimes while on probation
- Using, possessing, or selling illegal drugs
What Can Happen if You Violate Colorado Probation?
If you violate your probation, then you are in danger of having it revoked. That means that you may end up going to jail to complete your sentence.
However, it’s also possible that an alternative repercussion may occur including but not limited to:
- Your probation simply being extended
- A requirement to participate in additional counseling or drug treatment is added
- You are required to check in with your probation officer more frequently
- You have to wear an ankle monitor until you complete your probation
Probation is the court giving you a chance to stay out of jail as you serve your sentence, so don’t take it lightly. Violating the conditions of probation can get you into even more trouble.
In fact, you can even have your probation revoked, which means you spend the remainder of your sentence in jail.
If you have questions about whether you have committed a probation violation, your best course of action is to reach out to an experienced Colorado probation lawyer for advice.
About the Author:
Kimberly Diego is a criminal defense attorney in Denver practicing at The Law Office of Kimberly Diego. She obtained her undergraduate degree from Georgetown University and her law degree at the University of Colorado. She was named one of Super Lawyers’ “Rising Stars of 2012 & 2019” and a “Top 100 Trial Lawyers in Colorado” for 2012-2020 by The National Trial Lawyers. Both honors are limited to a small percentage of practicing attorneys in each state. Additionally, Expertise names her to its lists of the 25 Best Denver DUI Lawyers and 21 Best Denver Criminal Defense Lawyers, both in 2020. Ms. Diego has also been recognized for her work in domestic violence cases.