What is Misdemeanor Probation?

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When convicted of a misdemeanor, you may be sentenced to probation instead of jail. You may have to report to a probation officer, pay for drug tests and court fees and expect to be monitored at all times. Unless you petition the court, a misdemeanor will stay on your record for life.

When people are convicted of a misdemeanor charge for a relatively minor crime such as prostitution, graffiti or disorderly conduct, they can be subject to a wide variety of sentences. These sentences can include jail time, probation, fines, community service or any combination of the above. When sentenced with a misdemeanor probation, they'll be supervised by the court instead of the probation department. If part of the probation includes classes, counseling, community service or any other outside appointments, the convicted person will be held accountable by the court for completing these appointments.

TL;DR (Too Long; Didn't Read)

When someone is convicted of a misdemeanor and is sentenced to probation, this is known as a misdemeanor probation.

Do Misdemeanors Stay on Your Record?

Misdemeanors will stay on your record forever unless you petition the court to have them removed or expunged. In this process, all charges are either sealed or erased from your record. Most misdemeanors can be expunged, but it depends on your state's laws and the seriousness of your crime. Some misdemeanors that are commonly expunged include:

  • Simple thefts
  • DUI
  • Non-violent offenses
  • Trespassing
  • Resisting arrest

How Long Do You Go to Jail for Violating Probation?

If you break the conditions or terms of your probation, this is known as a probation violation. The consequences depend on a number of factors, including the seriousness of the violation, if you have any prior violations, and if there are any circumstances that might or worsen the violation.

Once you've violated your probation, the court could issue you a warning or call you in for a probation hearing. In this hearing, a judge will hear determine if you did, indeed, break the conditions of your probation. If found guilty, you can be sentenced to additional probation terms, serve a short jail term or have your probation revoked. If this happens, you'll have to serve out the remaining portion of your original sentence in prison.

What Does it Mean to Be on Formal Probation?

Formal probation is often called felony probation, but it's not only imposed on those convicted of felonies. It is a way for a convicted criminal to avoid serving a jail or prison sentence while continuing to work and live outside of incarceration. When a person is sentenced with formal probation, he has to meet with a probation officer on a regular basis. The probation officer will monitor the convicted person's behavior while on probation to ensure that he's following the rules the court imposed. The probation officer submits periodic reports on the convict to the sentencing judge and can come into the person's home at any time to check for probation violations such as drugs or alcohol use.

Formal probation is neither easy nor inexpensive. All costs are charged to the probationer, and the amount depends on the state. For example, in California it can cost between $150 and $600 per month.


About the Author

Victoria Bailey has a degree in Public Law and Government. She has spoken before state Supreme Court justices and her photograph is on the back cover of Bill Clinton's autobiography. As a former member of the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress, Bailey worked closely with lawmakers to help set public policy. Bailey's work appears on numerous websites, and she's currently writing the text for a governmental information app.