Whenever a criminal defendant is convicted of a crime or pleads guilty or no-contest, Alabama courts can impose probation in lieu of incarceration. While probation is limited to certain cases, all probation cases require defendants to comply with court imposed conditions. Alabama laws state specifically how this process operates and how long it can last.
Alabama circuit and district courts can impose probation in any case other than those for which the punishment is death or imprisonment for more than 15 years. In any probation-worthy case, the court can suspend any sentence and place a criminal defendant on probation. While probation can suspend terms of imprisonment, Alabama courts can impose any fine allowable under the law in addition to granting probation. (Code of Alabama § 15-22-50.)
Whenever a court imposes probation, it sets conditions the defendant must follow during the probation period. These conditions can be imposed at any time during the probation, and can be modified as the court deems appropriate. Such conditions are: avoiding injurious or vicious habits, avoiding known criminals or people of disreputable character, reporting to a probation officer, cooperating with the orders of the probation officers, complying with any demand by the officer to search or visit the defendant's home, maintain employment, stay within the state or other specified place, make restitution where appropriate, and any other conditions the court deems necessary or appropriate. (Code of Alabama § 15-22-52.)
Alabama courts can determine the period of probation, and extend, terminate, or continue the period at the court's discretion. The maximum term of probation for any misdemeanor is two years, while for felonies, it is five years. At any time during probation, the court can issue an arrest warrant if it finds the defendant has violated any of the probation terms. Alabama courts may also end probation early if the probation officer so recommends, and finds the defendant has satisfactorily complied with the probation conditions. (Code of Alabama § 15-22-54.)