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Most defendants who plead guilty to a criminal charge are placed on some sort of probation. Probation is a monitoring period (typically three years) whereby the court attempts to ensure that you will meet your obligations to the court and remain free from new law violations. There are two types of probation, formal and informal.

Formal Probation

Formal probation is typically reserved for felony convictions, although misdemeanors can carry a formal requirement as part of a plea or sentence. Formal probation is monitored by a probation officer. That officer reviews a person's account, establishes a plan for monitoring and supervises an individual for the term of probation. Probation officers have been known to drug test, randomly search residences, require drug or alcohol rehabilitation programs, interact with family members and employers, monitor finances, supervise restitution and approve of acquaintances. If you have fines and fees affiliated with your case, those will be paid through the probation office. Formal probation comes at a financial cost- defendants are typically charged several hundred dollars per month for the supervision efforts.

If you are placed on formal probation, you must meet personally with your probation officer at each and every session. Failure to do so will be considered "absconding" and can result in jail. You will not be allowed to travel without the prior permission of your probation officer.

After a period of successful monitoring on formal probation you may revert to "paper probation." This form of supervision relieves you of the obligation to personally meet with a probation officer. You either report to the probation office and fill out a questionnaire or mail in a questionnaire.

Informal Probation

Most defendants convicted of misdemeanors are placed on informal probation. Informal or "summary" probation does not require a probation officer or any sort of supervision by the court. It is simply an agreement between you and the court that you will meet your obligations or run the risk of being found in "violation". Informal probation violations occur when you have failed to pay your fines, failed to complete classes or Cal Trans or picked up new offenses. They can result in jail time, just like formal probation violations.

Consequences of Probation

While on probation you may be subjected to random searches by a police or probation officer. You may be denied employment, licensing, military inclusion, immigration or other benefits.

Reducing Formal Probation To Informal Probation

If you are on formal probation and have had a good track record, we may be able to get your probation reduced to informal probation. This not only saves you the time and inconvenience of reporting, but the monthly probation costs as well. If you are interested in seeing whether you qualify for a reduction, call Orange County criminal defense attorney Staycie R. Sena at (949) 477-8088 for a consultation now.

Terminating Probation Early

If you have met your probation obligations (if you have paid all of your fines and taken all of your classes, for example), you may be able to get off of probation early. Courts recognize that society is better served by having a person gainfully employed than languishing and merely waiting for the expiration of a probationary period. They also recognize that being on probation can sometimes prevent one from becoming gainfully employed. If you are interested in terminating probation early, call Orange County criminal lawyer Staycie R. Sena at (949) 477-8088 now for a consultation.

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