Probation. What is it? What should I expect?

Once a defendant is convicted of certain crimes in Wisconsin he can be placed on probation.  Probation is not available when an individual is convicted of a crime which is punishable by life imprisonment.  It’s also not available when specifically prohibited by statue for a specific offense.  (Probation Statute Wis. Stat. §973.09(1)(a))

When a defendant is placed on probation the court may withhold sentence or impose a sentence and stay its execution.  In either case the person is placed on probation for a specific amount of time.

The difference between a withheld sentence and an imposed and stayed sentence becomes clear when a person fails probation and is revoked.  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, imposed and stayed for 2 years probation.  If the person fails probation during that 2 year period, he will be sent to jail for 9 months.  If the defendant successfully completes his 2 year probation period he is not required to serve the 9 month jail sentence.  A withheld sentence is similar, but does not include the imposed and stayed term of imprisonment.  In the event of probation failure in connection with a withheld sentence, the defendant is returned to court to receive his sentence.  The court can sentence the defendant up to the maximum penalty.

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 of his probation.  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 from his probation and being sentenced to jail/prison.  Probation revocation begins when the agent initiates a hold on the offender.

If you or a loved one has been placed on a probation hold, contact Matthew R. Meyer at 1-414-270-0202.  Attorney Meyer has had numerous victories defending his clients after revocation proceedings were initiated.  He has also negotiated alternatives to revocation for his clients.