If you are convicted of criminal charges, you might be able to avoid spending time behind bars through probation. Probation allows defendants to serve their sentences from home if they comply with conditions and restrictions imposed by the court.
There are a wide variety of offenses for which you can be sentenced to probation. Probation is more common for disorderly persons offenses and low-level crimes but may be available for more serious offenses under the right conditions. If a crime is ineligible for probation, it may say so in the statute for that crime. Other times, prosecutors are reluctant to agree to probation for certain crimes. Probation might be available as a routine course of action for certain offenses. Other times, you and your attorney will have to advocate for probation.
If you were criminally charged and want to avoid going to jail or prison, contact our New Jersey criminal defense attorneys for help. Call us at the Law Offices of John J. Zarych at (609) 616-4956 for an initial case review free of charge.
What Offenses Are Eligible for Probation in New Jersey?
Courts may impose probation under N.J.S.A. § 2C:43-2(b). The law spells out the numerous conditions under which a court may suspend the imposition of a prison or jail sentence and impose probation or other sentencing alternatives.
Not only that, but according to N.J.S.A. § 2C:43-6.2, probation may be recommended by prosecutors under certain circumstances. The law states that when a defendant is facing a first-time conviction or a prison sentence that would not be in the best interest of justice, a prosecutor may motion for a sentence of probation.
In many cases, probation is presumed unless there is some special reason why it should not be an option. First-time offenders convicted of disorderly persons offenses or lower-level crimes are often presumed to be eligible for probation. If you are not sure whether you are eligible for probation, talk to our experienced Atlantic City criminal defense lawyers for help.
Even so, probation is not guaranteed even if a defendant is eligible. For example, a defendant with a long criminal history might not receive probation even if their charges are otherwise eligible. This is especially so for defendants who have been sentenced to probation before.
Is Probation Not Allowed for Any Crimes in New Jersey?
Probation is not always an option. There are many offenses for which probation is rarely, if ever, given. In some cases, the statutes for these offenses explicitly state that probation is not an option or that other forms of sentencing are mandatory. Our New Jersey criminal defense lawyers can review your charges and help you figure out if you are eligible for probation.
For example, many violent indictable crimes – otherwise known as felonies in other states – cannot receive probation. These offenses often come with mandatory minimum penalties that include incarceration for at least a certain portion of the time served.
Even where probation might be available for more serious offenses, courts often have a lot of discretion regarding the final sentence. If the aggravating factors of your case far outweigh the mitigating factors, the court is unlikely to give you probation. You can discuss your case and any aggravating details with our Egg Harbor criminal defense lawyers.
How Can I Get Probation Instead of Jail Time in New Jersey?
Sentencing is often a very tricky situation. Judges are tasked with balancing the numerous sentencing requirements established by law while also using their discretion where appropriate. Even in cases where probation is available, a judge might decide to impose incarceration. In many cases, the final decision comes down to your alleged offense’s mitigating and aggravating circumstances.
As mentioned above, aggravating factors may influence judges to impose harsher sentences. Aggravating factors are details that make a defendant look worse, such as a lack of remorse or the sheer outrageousness of the offense. Our New Jersey criminal defense lawyers can help you advocate for probation by downplaying your aggravating factors and highlighting mitigating circumstances that make you look better during your sentencing hearing.
If probation is presumed in your case, we must work to make sure that any aggravating circumstances are downplayed or suppressed to prevent the judge from imposing incarceration. If probation is not presumed, we can highlight mitigating factors or attempt to work out a deal with the prosecutor.
We can try to negotiate a plea deal in which the prosecutor agrees to recommend probation in exchange for your guilty plea. This kind of plea bargain requires the agreement of the judge before it goes through.
What Happens If I Violate My Probation in New Jersey?
If you violate your probation, you may be arrested and brought back to court for a new hearing. According to N.J.S.A. § 2C:45-3, the court may summon the defendant and hold a hearing to determine if probation should be revoked, continued, or altered.
Your probation officer can arrest you without a warrant if they believe you violated the terms of your probation. Alternatively, the court can issue a bench warrant for your arrest if you are believed to be in violation. Contact an attorney immediately if you believe a warrant has been issued for your arrest for a probation violation.
If the court determines that you have failed to comply with the terms of your probation in a substantial way, a judge might revoke your probation and re-sentence you to time in jail or prison. Our Galloway Township criminal defense attorneys have experience with probation revocation hearings and can help you prepare for your hearing.
While revocation is possible when a defendant fails to comply with their probation in a significant way, minor violations might not be grounds for revocation. For example, missing multiple meetings with your probation officer is a big violation that could cost you your probation. Being a few minutes late to a meeting is a minor violation that might get you scolded by your probation officer but probably not much more.
Contact Our New Jersey Criminal Defense Attorneys
If you or someone you know is facing criminal charges, our Northfield criminal defense attorney can review your case and determine if probation is possible. We can also help you if you are facing a potential revocation hearing. Call the Law Offices of John J. Zarych at (609) 616-4956 for a free case review.