Sometimes, courts in criminal cases can impose sentences of probation in lieu of fines or incarceration. Like other states, Delaware has specific statues governing probation. These laws cover when probation is appropriate, what a convict must do when on probation and what happens if the convict violates the probation terms.
Whenever a defendant is convicted of a crime in Delaware, the court can direct an investigation into the person's background to determine if probation is appropriate for sentencing. When investigating the convict's background, the investigating officer looks for such information as the circumstance of the offense, the motivation of the convict, the criminal record, social and behavioral histories, and the present condition of the convict. Any crime involving a victim must also contain a victim impact statement, which details how the crime affected the victim(s) of the crime.
The courts can impose probation for periods up to two years for any violent felony, 18 months for any crime committed against children (or other crimes under Title 16 of the Code of Delaware), and up to one year for any other offense. The court will place defendants on probation in one of four categories, rangin from I to IV. Each level imposes more strict restrictions, ranging from making progress reports to probation officers for level I offenders, to remaining on house arrest for level IV offenders.
The court can order a revocation of probation if it finds the probationer has violated any terms or conditions. Probation officers can arrest a defendant for any violation of terms. After arresting the defendant, the officer will notify the court of the violation so a probation violation hearing can be held. If the court finds the violation of probation is sufficiently established, it can order the defendant's probation revoked, reinstated or require the defendant to serve any sentence that may have originally been imposed.