A period of probation may be imposed on a criminal defendant that allows them to remain in the community if they adhere to some conditions. It is often an alternative to incarcerating the offender. New Jersey allows courts to place offenders on probation for periods of up to five years. The person is often required to meet with a probation officer at some regular interval. Some common conditions are that the individual maintains employment, obtain medical or psychological assessments, and to perform community service. Some probationary conditions are specifically geared for certain types of offenders. An example is that drug offenders undergo rehabilitation for substance abuse. Those who violate the conditions of their probation, such as by committing another criminal act, are likely to face more significant legal problems. The Lento Law Firm has years of experience in aggressively defending those facing probation violations.
Legal Representation in New Jersey for Probation Violations
Probation is largely viewed as a period of supervision and monitoring. Often an offender will have a short jail sentence imposed that is to immediately be followed by probation. Sometimes offenders will be placed on “inactive” or “non-reporting” probation that has minimal conditions for those guilty of relatively minor offenses. The chart below from the Bureau of Justice clearly shows how probation is used heavily by courts across the country.
No. of Offenders on Probation (U.S.)
2016 in New Jersey
New Jersey Sentencing
Sentencing is outlined in the New Jersey Code of Criminal Justice within Title 2C. These guidelines define the potential sanctions and penalties that may be imposed. For example, crimes of the first-degree (most significant types of crimes) are punishable by 10 to 20 years in prison. Crimes of the fourth-degree carry a maximum of an 18-month sentence. Many first time offenders found guilty of third or fourth-degree offenses are often not incarcerated and placed on probation.
Special Probation Sentence
In section 2C: 35-14.2, “special” options for probation are discussed. Many offenders in the state that have problems associated with substance abuse are considered as “people in need” of treatment or rehabilitation. Prior to sentencing for a criminal offense the court may require the individual to participate in a court-approved treatment program.
Another option available to courts is known as a conditional discharge. Those found guilty of committing a crime for the first-time, or those who commit minor offenses may have a specific set of conditions that they must satisfy as part of their probation. If the offender is able to complete these requirements the court will allow for dismissal of the charges. The conditions often involve receiving counseling, submitting to drug testing, and attendance at meetings such as Alcoholics Anonymous. To qualify for these programs the offender may need to meet certain requirements such as:
- Have no prior convictions for the current charges or similar charges
- The individual has never before been granted a conditional discharge
- Have not previously participated in other interventional or diversionary programs through the courts
Common Conditions for Those on Probation
The courts may impose a host of potential conditions that they deem as reasonable including:
- That the offender maintain family responsibilities such as paying child support
- To obtain and maintain employment
- To submit to assessments relating to medical conditions
- That the individual complete job or vocational training
- To abide by restraining orders or that the individual does not associate with certain persons
- That they do not possess any type of weapon
- To promptly inform their probation officer or supervisor of any change of address or changes in employment
- Payment of fines and restitution to victims in a timely manner
- Completion of a certain number of hours of community service
- Restrictions regarding internet access and usage
Financial Requirements for Probation
Those on probation in New Jersey are required to pay a fee that does not exceed $25.00 per month. A waiver is available for those deemed to be indigent. A percentage of this fee is placed in a Community Service Supervision Fund for the local jurisdictions.
Court Summons for Probation Violations
Section 2C: 45-3 explains the process of summons or arrest of an individual on probation and/or with a suspended sentence. Courts may send an offender a summons or issue a warrant for the arrest of an individual regarding potential violations of probation (VOPs). The probation department must have cause to believe that conditions of someone's probation were violated. Often the individual will be held without bail while awaiting a court appearance. The suspension of a sentence may be revoked and the original sentence may be imposed.
Split Sentencing Involving Probation
When placing someone convicted of a crime on probation the court may also impose a jail term of up to one year. For those convicted of a disorderly person offense and placed on probation the court may impose a jail term of up to 90 days. These are often referred to as “split” sentences. Any such period of incarceration may be credited as time served if the probation is violated and another jail term is imposed.
Parole vs Probation
Probation and parole are both alternatives to incarceration with defined terms, rules, and conditions that must be adhered to. Probation is generally imposed instead of incarceration. Parole applies specifically to those currently incarcerated. In New Jersey, inmates may potentially be released on parole after completing one-third of their prison sentence. The state holds parole hearings to determine if an inmate should be released or to determine if an individual who violated the terms of their parole should be sent back to prison. The officers that make these decisions often consider the behavior of the inmate during his incarceration. They may also evaluate if the individual has made efforts toward self-improvement. Examples may include if they entered counseling, furthered their education, or completed drug and/or alcohol therapy and programs.
Resources for Probation
U.S. Probation Office of New Jersey
50 Walnut Street, Rm 1001
Newark, NJ 07102
Camden County Probation Division
1112 Union Ave
Cherry Hill, NJ 08002
An Attorney for Those Accused of Violating the Terms of Probation
Those on probation that have since been arrested for a crime or otherwise violated the terms of probation should expect that they will face some penalties. In these situations, courts tend to be harsh on those who are sentenced to probation in lieu of jail time. It is strongly recommended that those who have violated their probation terms retain experienced legal counsel. Attorney Joseph D. Lento has been representing clients in these situations for many years and will work to minimize the repercussions. Contact the office today at (888) 535-3686 for a consultation.