Even the best of us can get caught in a bad situation at times. Unfortunately, sometimes these situations can result in legal action, including probation.
Probation is supervised time in place of incarceration, and you’ll want to make sure you successfully complete your probation to avoid having to face more serious criminal consequences.
If you’re worried about violating your probation, here are some important tips to remember.
Read the Terms of Your Colorado Probation
In order to successfully complete your probation, you must satisfy all of the conditions set forth in the terms of your probation. You will have a hard time satisfying all of these requirements if you are not familiar with them, so make sure you thoroughly read through all of the conditions you are being asked to agree to. If you have any questions at all, ask before you end up making a mistake.
Depending on the state, there may be different types of probation as well, such as supervised, unsupervised, and intensive. Supervised probation will keep you under the supervision of a probation officer, who you will check in with regularly. This is the most common type of probation. Unsupervised probation does not involve a probation officer, but usually only involves the paying of fines, staying out of legal trouble, and perhaps attending any court-ordered classes (such as anger management, alcohol awareness, counseling, and so on).
Don’t Pick and Choose the Terms You Follow
There are all kinds of ways people get probation violations.
For many on probation, fees, fines, and other costs must also be paid. You cannot satisfy the terms of your probation without paying these, whether it’s restitution to a victim, court fees, or something else entirely. Be sure to pay everything in full, and on time.
If you are having severe financial difficulties and cannot pay, make sure you communicate with your parole officer or appropriate judicial representative as soon as possible. Failure to pay can result in revocation of your parole, and thus, jail time.
If community service was part of your probation, be sure that you take the appropriate actions to complete this service. Do not let transportation issues become an excuse – talk to your probation officer if this is a concern and they will likely be able to find you an alternative form of service that is closer to where you work or live.
You must also be able to keep employment as a condition of your probation. If you do not currently have a job, you will need to work on obtaining one as soon as possible.
Communicating With Your Probation Officer in Colorado
You will have to meet with your probation officer on a regular basis, and it is imperative that you attend all of these appointments and show up on time. If at any time you experience life changes that make a certain aspect of your probation difficult to attain, be upfront with your probation officer and tell them.
Oftentimes, probation conditions can be modified when life changes occur. Never be afraid to talk to and ask questions of your probation officer. It’s also a good idea to keep your own record of documents, in case your parole officer has any questions or discrepancies in his or her own record.
This includes pay stubs, work schedules, community service schedule/hours served, related receipts, and more.
Probation Mistakes to Avoid
As was already mentioned, avoid missing or arriving late to any court appearances or appointments with your probation officer. The same goes for employment and community service work.
Staying out of trouble is another requirement for one to successfully complete probation. This means not committing any new crimes, staying away from drugs and excessive alcohol, and obeying any travel restrictions that may have been placed on you as a term of your probation.
Do not think that you are smarter than the courts or your probation officer – they will know if you’ve violated any of these conditions, and it could result in revocation of your probation.
Allow Probation to Improve Your Life
If you let it, probation can be the start of a new you. Maintaining a good attitude towards your probation officer and at work is required for probation, but can have lifelong changes. Similarly, you may be more willing to get involved in your community after completing your community service.
Probation is a good opportunity to separate yourself from negative habits and people and take into consideration what you want out of your life.
It is important to remember that probation is a privilege, and that it is much better than jail time. Don’t take it for granted. Be respectful to your probation officer, follow the conditions set forth, and pay attention to the advice given above. If you do things right, you may even be able to petition the court to terminate your probation early.
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” and “Top 100 Trial Lawyers in Colorado” for 2012 and 2013 by The National Trial Lawyers. Both honors are limited to a small percentage of practicing attorneys in each state. She has also been recognized for her work in domestic violence cases.