Interviewer: Let’s talk discuss how probation usually works.

A Sentence of Probation in Lieu of Incarceration Will Be the Goal of Your Attorney

Jay Arnesen: A judge has the authority to sentence you to jail, prison or probation, generally, within every statute in the criminal code in Florida.  Let’s say you did something wrong.  It was a third degree felony.  Because you’re a first time offender, but you couldn’t get any type of diversionary program, you ended up pleading guilty to that.

For whatever reason, your attorney couldn’t get it reduced down to a misdemeanor, so you pled guilty to the third degree felony, but you’re a first time offender.  At sentencing, your lawyer is going to tell the judge all of the good things about you.

He’s going to talk about your ties to the community, your family, your lifelong commitment to your children, your job, any type of civic things that you have done for your community, if you have been a volunteer.  Everything that you’ve ever done that is good in your life, your lawyer is going to highlight and talk about it to the judge.

Similar to what I said before when we first started this interview today, if you are, in fact, a first time offender, your attorney’s job is to let the judge know how much of an isolated incident this is, to let him know that, out of the 365 days in each year of your life you have never had a negative contact with the criminal justice system, but for this incident.

This was, although a meteoric mistake, it was nothing but a blip on the radar in your lifetime, and this is not something that’s going to define you, and you’re going to take this experience, learn from it.  You’ve been emotional about this case.  You’ve been part of your case.  You’ve cared about what was going to happen to you and your family as a result of this case.  You came there and you accepted responsibility.

Probation Entails a Set of Rules or Conditions by Which You Must Abide

Your lawyer’s going to ask the judge to take those factors into account when he sentences you, and your lawyer’s going to ask that he give you probation.  If the judge grants the probation, you’re now a ward of the state, similar to prison or jail, but you’re out on your own.  Except, there are rules you must follow.

Conditions May Include Random Drug Testing and Counseling

The rules could be set by the judge, but most often are set by your probation officer.  If your case was a first time, or just a drug offense, then you’re going to have a curfew and you’re going to have random drug and urine analysis.  If your case was a battery, and the battery was against your spouse, you can bet that you’re going to have anger management, alcohol dependency or drug addiction therapy, or counseling, and random urinalysis.

Your Probation Officer Can Visit Your Home and Order Meetings with Little Advance Notice

If it was just theft, you can rest assured that you could be subject to any one or all of those things depending on how your probation officer looks at you.  During the period of probation, the probation officer basically can do many things.  He can order you to come into meet him with very little notice.  He can show up at your door and search the contents of your home at any time, without probable cause.

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