Recently, a 40-year-old Santa Clarita woman was in the news after being arrested for violating her probation. According to the SCV Sheriff Station’s Facebook page, they received reports about a motor home that had been parked for several days outside of a business on Golden Triangle Road. Deputies went to check it out, and while doing so, discovered that one of the occupants was on active probation and also in possession of illegal narcotics. She was arrested and taken to the Sheriff’s Station for her probation violation and the motor home was towed.
Felony probation is not freedom, it’s used as an alternative to prison. It allows for a person convicted of a felony to either remain in the community provided that they agree to live under certain conditions and supervision of the courts and a probation officer.
Probation is a possible sentence for many California felonies – but not all of them. Probation may not be granted to defendants who commit violent or serious felonies, as well as certain sex crimes. Probation is seldom granted for people who commit crimes that include: great bodily harm to the victim, offenses involving deadly weapons, grand theft of over $100,000, furnishing PCP, and being a public official convicted of embezzlement or receiving bribes.
If a person is going to be put on probation, it will happen at the time of their sentencing. A judge will either “suspend execution” of the defendant’s jail or prison sentence provided that the defendant adhere to specific conditions upon their release, or the judge will sentence the defendant to probation with no conditions attached.
If a judge does set conditions for a defendant’s probation, they can vary pretty widely. Generally, most probation conditions include: meeting with a probation officer once a month, paying restitution to the victim, participating in therapy, drug testing, performing community service, and, of course, not breaking any other laws.
Probation typically lasts for anywhere from three to five years, and any violations that occur during that period are taken very seriously. If the violation is relatively minor, it’s possible to receive a warning from a judge and not have probation revoked. When this happens, judges have the power to set even stricter conditions with which the defendant must comply for the remainder of their probation. When someone commits a serious probation violation, such as committing a violent crime, not meeting with their probation officer, or being in possession of narcotics, judges are far less likely to be lenient and issue a warning. In these cases, defendants are often sent directly to prison or jail for one or more years.