Probation Blog

In Illinois, when a person is convicted, a judge usually has to assign some type of punishment, either being confinement such as jail or prison or probation which can come in many forms. Most crimes allow a person to be placed on probation as a form of punishment after a conviction. In fact, for most convictions, the presumption is for probation unless the state can show why such a sentence would “depreciate” or demean the seriousness of the offense.

With regards to felony convictions, class 1 and 2 felonies tend to have a maximum of 48 months or four years of probation. Class 3 and 4 felonies have a maximum of up to 30 months or 2 ½ years. Misdemeanors, being a lower classification, carry a lower maximum – up to two years. Probation isn’t an option for the state’s most serious offenses which are class X and murder.

Probation comes in many flavors and types. In essence, though, it’s all the same concept. An officer of the court monitors your actions during the period assigned by the judge. During that time, your behavior is curtailed and in some cases, a person must come into a probation officer’s office for a weekly, monthly or periodic visit. A judge could assign a curfew, drug testing, anger management or other programs which are aimed at correcting the behavior that got a person in trouble in the first place.

In general, there are two types of probation – reporting and nonreporting.

The latter has two variations – court supervision and conditional discharge. The main difference is that with court supervision, there is not a conviction if the probation term is completed successfully. Also, the charge is dropped if court supervision is successfully completed, whereas with conditional discharge, a conviction will appear on your record. Obviously, the consequences are huge. Completion of court supervision means that there is no record of a conviction which can help with job searches later in life.

Reporting probation comes in many shapes and sizes. There’s the “regular” probation where a person must check in their probation officer as required and then complete whatever requirements the judge imposed, based upon the recommendations of the Presentencing Investigation (PSI).  Often a person will have to undergo drug testing, anger management, counseling of some kind or other measures that are designed to correct the behavior that got a person into that situation. A probationer often pays for those services through either a monthly fee or by having the agency bill them.

Under the “regular” or “standard” probation, an officer could ask to visit you at your home or require you to show proof of employment. Most conditions of probation are determined at sentencing on a document that you and your attorney should have reviewed;  another reason why it’s important to have a seasoned attorney to review such documents as probation terms can last up to four years in some cases.

Jail time – up to 180 days – could also be a condition of probation. And a person usually must get permission from the court to travel out of the area.

Beyond that, there are other programs within the probation arena that cater to different individuals. There’s what’s known in the parlance of legal jargon as 710 or 410 probation, named as such after the section of the criminal code that authorizes them. In a nutshell, this is probation for a first-time drug offender. Similar to court supervision except that it has more conditions, the idea is that if a person completes their term of probation and complies with all the conditions, no conviction is entered. To go from a possible felony on your record to nothing is huge and many people jump at the chance. After a number of years, a person could apply to have the case expunged or removed from their record.

Another probation program for drug offenders is the TASC option. TASC stands for Treatment Alternatives for Safe Communities but hardly anyone breaks the acronym down. This is reserved for people whose crimes stem from drug or alcoholism. Unlike 410 or 710, you don’t have to be a first-offender and the crime need not be directly drug related. For instance, residential burglary is considered a nonprobationable offense yet a person could qualify for TASC if their addiction is the underlying cause of the crime.

However, violent offenses aren’t eligible for TASC and a person must plead guilty to begin the evaluation process.  TASC probation could last for up to five years.

Another specialized probation is IPS or intensive probation. Judges will often call this a person’s last chance before going to prison. A person is deemed eligible for IPS if they have a past record, are willing to comply with the strict conditions and they live within the county. IPS is often paired with normal probation in that the first year of a multi-year term is under the intensive conditions which include home confinement at night, a curfew, drug testing, counseling and possibly electronic monitoring. A similar program is called Adult ReDeploy which uses many of the same criteria.

Minors or people under 18 can qualify for juvenile probation which is very similar except that the total emphasis is rehabilitation, not punishment. Conditions of probation include good grades at school, listening to parents and completion of various counseling.

As you can see, there are many options for probation within the court system and that’s why you need an attorney who is familiar with the various options. With so much at stake for your future, why take a chance. Give Miller Law Offices a call and we’ll be happy to sit down with you and go over your various options.

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