If you have been arrested for driving under the influence (DUI), and you are ultimately convicted of that offense as a first-time offender, you may be sentenced to serve a period of time on probation. If this is your first experience with the criminal justice system, you may not know much about probation. That lack of knowledge can hurt you. In fact, it could lead to a violation of your probation which, in turn, could lead to a return to custody. To help ensure that you understand, and do not violate, the terms of your probation, an Omaha DUI attorney explains some probation basics.
Probation vs. Parole
People often use the terms “probation” and “parole” interchangeably, when in fact they are not the same. In fact, there are a number of important differences between probation and parole, starting with how you end up on one or the other and ending with the consequences of violating both.
Parole follows a period of incarceration in the state (or federal) prison system. If you are sentenced to serve time in prison pursuant to a criminal conviction you may eventually be released on parole. Although the original sentencing judge decides your sentence, the parole board decides whether or not you are released from incarceration onto parole after you have served the minimum amount of time required by law in prison. If granted parole, you are released into the community but remain under the supervision of the Nebraska Board of Parole. If you violate the terms of your parole you will be returned to prison to serve the remainder of your sentence.
Probation, on the other hand, is a type of sentencing alternative that may be part of your original sentence if you are convicted of a criminal offense. A defendant can be sentenced directly by the sentencing judge to a term of probation in addition to, or in lieu of, a period of incarceration in the county jail. Notice the term “jail” instead of “prison.” That distinction is also important because as a general rule, only sentences of incarceration for up to one year can be served in the county jail. If you are sentenced to serve more than one year, you will serve that time in the state prison system.
If you are sentenced to serve a period of time on probation, you will be supervised by the sentencing court throughout your probationary time period. You will also be assigned to a probation officer to whom you will report. The probation officer then reports back to the sentencing court about your progress. The court sets the terms and conditions of your probation; however, your probation officer will be the one to notify the court if you have violated one of those terms because the sentencing court retains jurisdiction over you until you complete your probation. While on probation, all probationers are required to abide by standard conditions of probation and some are also required to abide by special conditions of probation. Examples of standard conditions of probation include:
- Reporting to a probation officer
- Paying court fines and costs
- Not committing new criminal offenses
Special conditions of probation are conditions imposed by the court that are tailored to your specific history, circumstances, or crime, such as:
- Obeying a no contact order
- Completing drug or alcohol counseling
- Paying restitution
If you violate your probation, the sentencing court will be notified and a hearing will be set. You have the right to an attorney for the hearing. Although less formal, a probation violation hearing is much like a trial. The State will present evidence of the violation and you have the right to present a defense. If the judge decides that you did, indeed, violate your probation, one of three things may occur:
- The judge may simply issue a warning and continue your probation unchanged.
- The judge may continue you on probation; however, with modified terms such as a new condition that you seek treatment for a substance abuse problem.
- The judge may revoke your probation and sentence you to serve any, or all, of your suspended sentence.
Contact an Omaha DUI Attorney
If you have been arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) in the State of Nebraska, contact the Sarpy County DUI attorneys at Petersen Law Office 24 hours a day at 402-513-2180 to discuss your case with an experienced DUI defense lawyer.