The criminal justice system has gradually shifted its focus from filling prisons to a more compassionate approach, namely rehabilitation. Thus, conditional probation has become an increasingly important aspect of sentencing. In general, the power to suspend a sentence and impose probation is statutorily created, and must, therefore, be exercised in accordance with the statute authorizing it. Depending upon the restrictive nature, some statutes permit the court sole discretion in setting certain conditions of probation, while others specifically restrict the judge to certain conditions.
The most restrictive statutes may require the imposition of certain conditions for certain offenses, require defendants to complete a minimum sentence before being eligible for probation, or simply prohibit granting probation entirely for offenses which prescribe punishment of a certain severity.
When probation is granted, some statutes explicitly authorize the imposition of certain conditions such as restitution, fines, recoupment and incarceration. These conditions have been upheld to deter further offenses and contribute to the defendant's rehabilitation. Recoupment statutes have withstood arguments that they may operate to deter defendants from exercising their right to counsel, on account they are based on the ability of the defendant to pay. However, where revocation of probation occurs and the defendant is indigent or has made a good-faith effort to pay fines or the costs of rehabilitation programs, courts have held that revocation of the probation violates equal protection.
A Violation of Probation is generally initiated by your probation officer and may result in a warrant for your arrest. The warrant may block your ability to post bond. It is therefore important to consult with an attorney as soon as you learn that a warrant has been issued for your arrest. An attorney may be able to arrange for your surrender and obtain your release on your own recognizance (ROR), or a low bond.
In addition to the explicitly authorized conditions of probation, formulation and imposition of other conditions is often left to the sound discretion of the trial court. These conditions are generally limited only by the requirement that they be reasonably related to the defendant's rehabilitation. Accordingly, trial courts should be viewed as having wide discretion in imposing these conditions.
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