Felony Probation:
A Sentencing Alternative to Jail or Prison

Felony probation is a sentencing alternative to prison. It allows convicted felons to serve all or part of their sentence out of custody but under the supervision of a probation officer. Felony probation is also known as “formal probation.”

Not all defendants qualify. A judge determines eligibility by considering a variety of factors, such as the defendant’s criminal history and the severity of the crime committed.

A probation period typically lasts up to two years for non-violent felonies and up to three years for theft involving more than $25,000. During this period, the probationer must adhere to “conditions of probation.” These may include:

  1. reporting to a probation officer (P.O.) on a regular basis, and
  2. paying victim restitution.

If the probationer violates these conditions, then a judge may:

  1. warn the person and reinstate the same terms,
  2. modify the terms and include harsher conditions, or
  3. revoke it and send the person to county jail or state prison.

Felony probation only applies in cases of felonies. If a person committed a misdemeanor, then a judge may award a defendant with misdemeanor probation.

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