Most defendants who are convicted of a misdemeanor offense are placed on misdemeanor probation for a specified period of time. This probation is also called informal or summary probation, because unlike those who are placed on felony probation, a defendant on misdemeanor probation does not have to report to the probation department. Generally, a defendant’s compliance with misdemeanor probation is monitored directly by the Court. A failure to comply the terms of misdemeanor probation can result in a probation violation, revocation of probation and incarceration.
When sentencing a defendant on a misdemeanor offense, the court can sentence the defendant to jail, can place the defendant on probation or can require a combination of both. The maximum sentence for misdemeanor offenses is determined by statute and can be 90 days, 180 days or a full year depending on the specific crime. The sentencing judge may require that the defendant serve some time in jail as a condition of probation and then be placed on probation. The probation period for a misdemeanor offense can range between two and five years. Unlike those on felony probation, defendants on misdemeanor probation are allowed to leave the state or country and would not need to notify the court first.
At sentencing, the judge will read the terms of the sentence into the record. The defendant will also be provided a copy of the sentencing form that lists each requirement. The defendant is expected to comply with each of the requirements of his or her sentence while on probation.
The terms of probation will depend on the circumstances of the crime. In all cases, the defendant would be required to pay a court fine, plus penalties and assessments. Once these additional amounts have been totaled, the final amount can be extremely expensive. Courts often allow defendants to substitute jail time or community labor hours in lieu of the fine if they are unable to pay.
For defendants who are convicted of a driving under the influence offense, the court will require that they complete a drug and alcohol education program. The length of the class will vary depending on whether or not the defendant has prior DUI convictions, the defendant’s BAC and other relevant factors.
For many assault cases, the defendant would be required to complete an anger management program. This may be a 52-week or 26-week program designed to address the defendant’s violent tendencies and offer guidance on how to positively resolve conflicts.
The court may require that the defendant serve time in jail. Alternatively, the court may require that the defendant complete community service or community labor hours. Community labor is offered through the county and is a structured work program that may include beach clean-up, picking up trash on local roads or the tree farm program. Community service can often be completed through any non-profit organization and can include volunteering at a homeless shelter or soup kitchen.
If there was a victim who suffered damages, the court will order that the defendant pay restitution as a condition of probation. The defendant would be able to challenge the amount of restitution owed at a restitution hearing. Failure to pay restitution to the victim can be the basis for a probation violation, but only if the defendant’s failure to pay is willful. If the defendant cannot afford to pay restitution, he or she cannot be penalized for this failure to pay. The court may hold an ability to pay hearing and may extend the defendant’s probation term until the restitution amount is fully paid off. Alternatively, the court may convert the restitution owed to a civil judgement that would attach to the defendant even after probation has been terminated.
Usually, the Court will provide due dates by which the defendant must provide proof of completion of the various requirements of probation. Failure to meet these due dates will result in a probation violation and bench warrant being issued.
If you are facing misdemeanor charges or are currently on probation for a misdemeanor offense, it is absolutely crucial that you discuss your situation with a Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer as soon as possible. As a former Deputy District Attorney with over 14 years of prosecutorial experience, Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney Michael Kraut possesses extensive knowledge of criminal law and procedure and is highly effective at assisting his clients through all stages of the criminal process.
For more information about Los Angeles misdemeanor probation, contact Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney Michael Kraut at the Kraut Law Group located at 6255 Sunset Boulevard, Suite 1480, Los Angeles, CA 90028. Mr. Kraut can be reached 24/7 at 888-334-6344 or 323-464-6453.