Probation and judge's gavel - federal probation concept

Someone who is charged with a federal crime but cannot avoid a conviction may be able to negotiate a plea bargain wherein there exists a possibility of probation.. A sentence of probation can be imposed as an alternative to prison. It is similar to parole and supervised release in that there are conditions a person must follow. But unlike parole or supervised release, probation is a sentence entered in lieu of prison time that allows a person to avoid time in jail. Instead of serving time in prison, someone sentenced to probation undergoes community supervision in its place. Probation allows a criminal defendant to prove they can comply with society’s laws and are not at risk of re-offending.

Who Is Eligible for Federal Probation?

People charged with Class A or Class B felonies generally are not eligible for federal probation. Class A and B felonies include white collar crimes as well as violent crimes like terrorism, bank robbery, car-jacking and drug distribution charges.

For white collar crimes, in cases where the amount of loss is low enough such that the sentencing guidelines fall within Zone A, a sentence of probation is possible, but not guaranteed. It is always up to the sentencing Judge.

When facing sentencing for most white collar crimes, probation will not appear to be an option. However, an experienced and seasoned federal criminal defense lawyer can be the difference between a term of imprisonment and a term of incarceration. Ms. Lefeber has an extraordinary record of obtaining sentences of probation for her clients that were facing many years imprisonment.

What Are the Federal Probation Rules?

When a person is placed on probation, a federal probation officer will perform an assessment to identify the programs and restrictions that will best serve the defendant and reduce the risk they will re-offend. The assessment is designed to identify areas of need and may include substance abuse counseling, mental health services, and moral recognition classes. The assessment becomes part of the probation recommendation and must be adhered to throughout the duration of the sentence.

The judge sets the specific terms of probation. The length of federal probation will depend on the severity of the offense. A misdemeanor conviction in federal court carries a maximum of five years of probation, while a federal felony conviction carries a minimum of one year of probation and the duration is purely within the Judge’s discretion.

Federal probation rules usually include terms common to community supervision programs, such as attending regularly scheduled meetings with a probation officer, mandatory drug testing, participation in educational and employment programs, and the requirement not to commit any additional crimes.

The person placed on probation must strictly comply with specific terms and conditions identified in the judge’s order. Depending on how successfully a person adheres to the terms of probation, the conditions of probation can later be modified, upon motion. These modifications to the federal probation rules could result in fewer restrictions.

Financial restitution is often a core component of federal probation. In cases where there is a financial loss, the defendant will receive a judgment of restitution and forfeiture which must be paid as part of the sentence.

What Are the Federal Probation Reporting Requirements?

Federal probation officers must notify the court if a person is not compliant with the terms of their probation. Failure to adhere to the terms of probation will result in a probation violation, which will be heard by the judge and could result in more stringent probation requirements or revocation of probation and the requirement that the defendant serve an additional term of imprisonment..

What Can Cause a Federal Probation Violation?

A person violates the terms of federal probation by failing to abide by the terms set forth by the judge. Common examples of federal probation violation include missing an appointment with a probation officer, failing a drug test, failing to complete community service hours, or committing another crime.

Allegations of a federal probation violation can result in the judge issuing an arrest warrant. The judge will hold a hearing to determine whether the defendant violated the terms of their probation and, if so, an appropriate penalty.

After a probation violation, the judge could impose more strict conditions, extend the period of probation, or revoke probation and send the defendant to jail.

At a hearing for a probation violation, the burden of proof is lower than at a criminal trial. A criminal trial requires proof beyond a reasonable doubt, but in a hearing for an alleged probation violation, the burden of proof is a preponderance of the evidence, which means the court must only find that it is more likely than not that the defendant violated the terms of the probation.

Charged with a Federal Crime? Contact the Law Offices of Hope C. Lefeber Today.

If you were charged with a crime in federal court, experienced legal representation is paramount. A skilled and experienced criminal defense lawyer who understands the federal justice system can work to obtaina sentence of probation instead of a prison sentence.

The Law Office of Hope C. Lefeber exclusively represents defendants facing criminal charges in federal court. Ms. Lefeber can evaluate your situation and work towards a resolution that minimizes any period of incarceration.. To learn more and schedule your confidential consultation, contact Ms. Lefeber today.