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This article is from an interview with Utah criminal defense attorney Jason Schatz. This portion is regarding terms of probation.
Interviewer: What are some common terms of probation?
Attorney Schatz: As far as the terms of probation go, it varies considerably from case to case, but the court is allowed, as part of the sentence, to set reasonable terms of probation. These terms are set with the idea that the individual either make amends or pay restitution for the damage that was caused and also provide the offender with the necessary services to make sure that they don’t re-offend in the future. Typically, with most sentences, obviously there’s some sort of a fine imposed. They involve either an imposed jail sentence or at least a suspended jail or prison sentence. Many judges, depending on the nature of the offense, will order the offender to perform community service as a substitute for jail time, and that can range anywhere from 20 hours on a minor offense up to several hundred hours of community service on a more serious felony offense. Oftentimes judges will order people not to consume any drugs or alcohol during the period of probation, even though they may be over 21, as a reasonable condition of probation, especially if the offense involves drugs or alcohol to begin with. Other conditions of probation typically include mental health treatment or substance abuse treatment if the offense involves one of those issues. Other types of sentences might require offenders to seek anger management treatment or domestic violence treatment if it involves some sort of an assault, something of that nature. Judges can even place people on curfews. They can also restrict places where they can go. For example, DUI offenders or drug offenders typically are prohibited from going to bars. The way it’s termed is they’re not allowed to go to places “where alcohol is the chief item of sale.” In addition, the judge could also restrict who you associate with. One of the common terms of felony probation is that you not associate with other convicted felons or people who are involved in criminal activity. And the offender is not allowed to associate with people who are using drugs or alcohol. Depending on if it’s a domestic violence–type case, there may be protective orders issued as part of probation, or trespass orders preventing an individual from going to certain locations or having contact with certain individuals who might have been victims of the crime or witnesses to the crime. In particular cases, you can have sex offender treatment. Those are some of the most common restrictions we see.
The individual can be required to wear a GPS ankle monitor that locates them at any given time. They can also be required to submit to random testing for drugs and alcohol which can be done several different ways. Sometimes it’s done as urinalysis, aka “UA” testing. Sometimes it is performed through periodic hair testing. They can also order people to install what’s called a SCRAM monitor, which is an ankle monitor that can detect alcohol secretions from your skin, or an ignition interlock device in your vehicle. There’s also in-home alcohol monitoring devices that can be imposed in cases where they’re concerned about somebody continuing to abuse alcohol and commit future crimes.
Interviewer: Is house arrest a term of probation?
Attorney Schatz: Home detention is usually imposed as a substitute for jail time as part of the sentence. In a way it could be considered a part of probation as well. Probation basically means that you have to comply with whatever the court sentencing order is during that probationary period, and if you fail to do so, the court can impose further punishment for failing to comply with the terms. Home confinement is something that is used because of jail overcrowding, which is definitely an issue, especially in Salt Lake County. With non-violent offenders or offenders who have offenses involving drugs or alcohol, home confinement—restricting that person to their home through the use of an ankle monitor, typically the GPS monitor—is oftentimes used for those non-violent offenders. It restricts them to stay in their home—but judges can make exceptions, which they typically will make exceptions for things such as leaving the home for employment purposes, attending therapy, attending medical appointments, or other specified trips. But the general idea is that the person is confined to their home at all other times that it’s not necessary that they leave the home. So it limits their freedom, so to speak, much like being in jail would.
Read about what actions are considered probation violations.
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