What Is Probation Like?
Probation and Community Control
Probation in Ohio is now called “community control.” It provides for terms and conditions you must comply with in order not to go to jail. The system requires you to work with a “probation officer” (P.O.) for a given period of time as set by the court. A common misconception is that the probation officer will actively work against you in an effort to return you to jail. Most of the time, the probation officer is working to make sure you comply with the court order and stay out of jail. It is up to you to show up and make sure the probation officer is kept aware of your circumstances. You should maintain contact with your trial attorney as may problems can be solved if there is good communication.
Most experienced attorneys can advise you about how to navigate the courts probation department and successfully complete probation. Under Ohio law, you cannot demand to serve jail time instead of being placed on community control in misdemeanor OVI cases, see State v. Walton (2000), 137 Ohio App. 3d 450, 457 — “…(A) misdemeanor offender has no right to refuse probation and to demand to serve her sentence of imprisonment.” Unlicensed driver was headed to prison for eight months and wanted six month traffic sentence served concurrently. Instead, the judge put her on probation. Experienced attorneys can help. If you need treatment, your attorney can have you do it prior to being placed on probation. Likewise, if you need to fix license issues. These are the little things that make a difference in your court case.
When Do I Get Off Probation?
Often, a court will only keep you on probation until you have paid all fines and costs and complied with the requirements of your punishments. In DUI/OVI cases, the probation department is responsible for setting up the 72 hour Driver Intervention Program and will make sure you attend and complete the program. Work with your Ohio DUI attorney to learn about how to comply with the terms and conditions of probation (now called “Community Control Sanctions”). Depending on the court, you may face any or all of the following probationary conditions:
- No new DUI or serious traffic arrests;
- Alcohol Assessment and/or Follow Up Alcohol Counseling;
- Random Urine Screens;
- Restrictions on driving times;
- No “Refusals” of blood, breath, or urine tests if arrested for DUI;
- No odor of alcohol while driving a vehicle;
- Pay fines and court costs;
- Attend MADD’s Victim Impact Panel;
- Attend probation officer meetings;
In addition a court may require you to install Ignition Interlock (breath tester in the vehicle); Continuous Alcohol Monitor (ankle bracelet); Restrictions on travel outside of Ohio or the county; Electronic Home Monitoring or House Arrest; Work-Release or Community Service. As you can see, the probation department and your probation officer have a great deal of power over your life while you are on community control. Your DUI attorney should be a continued resource available to help you with issues that arise while on community control.
What Happens If I Violate The Terms of Probation?
If you have been arrested for violating probation, you will have a hearing in front of the judge. Since you have already been sentenced to probation for committing a crime, you will not be entitled to a jury to determine whether or not you have violated the terms of your probation. The sentencing judge will hear the facts of your alleged violation, and determine if you did in fact violate any of the terms or conditions. A probation violation is not like a new criminal charge, you can be forced to testify against yourself and witness testimony can be used against you. In most courts violations of the terms of your probation are very serious matters. Unlike criminal matters, prosecutors are not bound by the “beyond a reasonable doubt standard.
Under Ohio law, prosecutors need only show that there exists a “preponderance of the evidence” that a violation has occurred. This means they only have to prove that it is more likely than not that you violated probation. You should be aware of the terms. Ask questions if you have any confusion. A violation of technical terms (such as changing your address without informing the court, failing to pay on time and not showing up for your probation appointment) are as serious as the violation of a more substantive term.
Being charged with a new crime can result in a revocation of probation even if you are not convicted due to the lower preponderance of the evidence standard. You could not only face jail time on the new charge, but face the time previously suspended from your earlier offense. The charges need not be in the same court to invoke the court’s community control jurisdiction.
Contact Charles Rowland at (937) 318-1384