The California justice system contains two types of probation: The first is summary or informal probation, typically given for misdemeanor offenses where defendants serve their time without any supervision by the court or probation department. The second type of probation is felony or formal probation, which requires the direct supervision of an officer representing the department of probation. In contrast with formal or felony probation, informal or summary probation applies to misdemeanor offenses. In California, many crimes are “wobblers” and may be charged as either a felony or misdemeanor.
California courts may give summary probation instead of jail time to almost anyone convicted of a misdemeanor. The California criminal justice system uses probation for misdemeanor crimes to not only rehabilitate the offender but also to make the system more efficient while still protecting the interests of the victim and the public.
Courts typically grant summary probation to first-time offenders, often juveniles with no prior arrests or convictions. As even defendants with prior convictions are eligible to receive informal probation, California judges have the discretion to assess whether defendants are one-time or potential career criminals and treat them accordingly.
Whatever term you use to describe it – misdemeanor, summary, or informal – this type of probation is an alternative to jail. It allows low-risk criminal offenders the chance to serve most, if not all, of their sentences under court supervision instead of incarcerated. An experienced California criminal defense attorney greatly enhances any defendant’s chances of receiving probation instead of jail time.
Summary probation usually lasts for a minimum of one to a maximum of three years in California, although judges may order summary probation for up to five years. Defendants are required to comply with the conditions of their probation. These conditions may include counseling, payment of restitution, or performing community service. The ultimate consequence for failing to comply with the terms of summary probation is the revocation of probation and reinstatement of the criminal sentence, i.e., jail time.
John Patrick Dolan has over forty years of experience helping well-intentioned Californians clear their criminal records and continue making present contributions to the Coachella Valley as valued members of the community. It is possible to avoid jail time when committing a misdemeanor offense. It is possible to restore a degree of finality with unfortunate, past mistakes through post-conviction relief. Call the Dolan Law Firm today at (760) 775-3739 or find out more online here.