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What is probation? What should I expect?

Once sentenced, you may wonder: What is probation, exactly?

Once a defendant is convicted of certain crimes in Wisconsin he can be placed on probation.  If the defendant is convicted of a crime punishable by life imprisonment, he is not eligible for probation.  It’s also not available when specifically prohibited by statue for a specific offense.

But what exactly is probation?  What are “conditions” of probation and how do they apply?  This blog post focuses on those questions.  If you’re seeking criminal defense representation, don’t hesitate to call Meyer Van Severen today.  We answer phones 24/7 at (414) 270-0202.

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Withheld sentences vs. imposed and stayed sentences:

When the court places the defendant on probation it also determines what to do with the underlying sentence.  Should the court announce a penalty on the front end for a failure of probation?  Or should the court wait and only sentence the defendant if he fails probation?  That’s the difference between an imposed and stayed and a withheld sentence.  No matter the case, the court announces a time period the defendant will spend on supervision.

What’s the difference between the two versions?  That becomes clear upon a revocation.

In the case of an imposed and stayed sentence, the court, at the original sentencing hearing, declares an amount of time that will be served upon revocation of probation.  For example, the court may sentence the defendant to a 9 month period of jail on a Class A misdemeanor, imposed and stayed for 1 year probation.  Upon a failing probation and a revocation, the defendant goes to jail for 9 months.  Upon a successful completion of the 1 year term, the defendant does not serve the 9 month jail sentence.

A withheld sentence is certainly similar, but does not include the imposed and stayed term of imprisonment.  For example: the defendant fails probation.  His probation officer revokes him.  The defendant returns to court for sentencing from the judge.  The judge may sentence the defendant up to the maximum 9 month penalty.

What if I failed a day before completion?

This unfortunate circumstance happens frequently.  For example: the defendant is on probation for a misdemeanor battery, punishable by up to 9 months in jail, a $10,000.00 fine, or both.  The court imposes and stays 9 months in jail.  Instead, the court places the defendant on supervision for one year.  The defendant violates a rule of supervision on day 364.  His probation offer takes him into custody.

Does he get off supervision the next day?

He was going to get off supervision the next day.  But he screwed up a day too early.  Although the probation was to end one day later, the defendant will stay in custody while the probation officer investigates the charges against the defendant.  If the probation officers successfully revokes the offender, the imposed but stayed penalty will apply.  Alternatively, the defendant returns to court for sentencing.

Does he go to jail for 1 day?

That’s also not what happens.  Although the defendant was one day away from successfully completing his supervision, he failed.  And upon failure, he’s subject to the maximum penalty.

Once placed on probation:

Once placed on probation the offender is supervised by an agent assigned by the Wisconsin Division of Community Corrections.  The offender is provided a copy of standard rules of community supervision.  The rules must be complied with or the defendant faces revocation.  Additional special rules relating to the offender or the offense may be imposed.  When the offender was convicted of, or has a history of, sexual offenses he must also comply with the standard sex offender rules of community supervision.

If the offender fails to comply with his rules, he risks being revoked and being sentenced to jail/prison.  Revocation proceedings begin when the agent initiates a hold on the offender.

What is probation?
A criminal defense attorneys explains probation. Call us for criminal defense representation: (414) 270-0202.

Act 79 searches

Probation officers frequently search offenders.  If the officer finds something incriminating, there’s a good chance he’ll investigate for the possibility of a revocation.

While in supervision, offenders have a lesser expectation of privacy.  Law enforcement officers and probation officers may search the offender without a warrant or consent.  The offender is subject to search based on reasonable suspicion, an incredibly low bar.

Contact Meyer Van Severen, S.C. for the best criminal defense

Any criminal charge could lead to serious consequences.  Some people want a probationary disposition.  Others want to win their case and achieve a complete acquittal.  No matter your goal, our criminal defense lawyers can help.  Whether your case is a Class A misdemeanor battery, or a Class A felony homicide, we can certainly help.

Finally, if you or a loved one has been placed on a probation hold, contact Meyer Van Severen, S.C. at 414-270-0202. Our attorneys win revocation hearings.  We arrange for alternative to revocations.  And we’re certainly on your side.

(Our criminal defense attorneys updated this blog post on December 4, 2019.)