02 Jan Probation in Indiana – A Brief Overview
Probation in Indiana – What is it?
If you have been charged with a criminal offense in Indiana, one possible sentence the court can consider is a term of probation. This article will provide a brief overview of probation in Indiana and what it means for you.
Probation in Indiana – Relevant Statutes and Laws
Probation in Indiana is governed by Indiana Code 35-38-2. This statute lays out the rules for probation under Indiana law, including regulations for terms of probation, probation user fees, modification of probation requests, and probation violation allegations.
While the courts have wide latitude on what terms they can impose on a person sentenced to probation, these statutes lay out the basic rules the courts and the parties must follow when sentencing someone to probation or if the state alleges that a person has violated the terms of their probation.
Probation in Indiana – What Does it Mean to be Placed on Probation?
Probation is used when a court (or the parties in a plea agreement) decide that the defendant should not serve their entire sentence in jail or in custody, but instead should have some or all of their sentence suspended and then supervised by the county probation department. A defendant can be placed on probation directly, or after they have served an executed sentence in jail or on community corrections.
If a court sentences a person to probation, that portion of the sentence is suspended, meaning it is sort of hanging over the person’s head. Instead of going to jail, they can stay in the community (and at home) and complete certain requirements (the terms of probation). However, if the person violates the terms of probation, the court can revoke probation and the suspended sentence and commit the person to jail or community corrections as a consequence of violating probation.
Terms of Probation
When a person is sentenced to probation in Indiana, they will be given the terms of probation. These are simply the rules of probation. Usually, a person will not be allowed to use drugs or alcohol, they will be required to pay probation user fees, meet with their probation officer regularly, submit to drug and alcohol screens and also complete any other requirements imposed. These other terms typically involve completing counseling, behavior modification classes, or community service, depending on the type of case and the defendant’s history. A violation of any of the terms of probation can be cause for the probation officer to file a violation of probation.
Violations of Probation
While serving a term of probation, it is important to follow the rules and complete all requirements. If a person does violate their terms of probation, the probation department can either sanction them internally or file an official notice of violation of probation with the court.
If the violation allegation is handled internally, the probation officer will generally make a note of the violation and order the defendant to perform additional requirements, such as more community service or additional classes. These violations are not automatically reported to the court.
Alternatively, if the probation officer files a formal notice of violation of probation, the court will receive the notice and set the matter for a court hearing. Additionally, the court may issue a summons or a warrant for the person’s arrest. A violation of probation may be filed in the court up to one year after the completion of the term of probation or 45 days after the state receives notice of the violation.
Probation Violation Hearings in Indiana
At the probation violation hearing, the defendant has a right to an attorney. Because it is not a criminal charge, the State does not need to prove the violation beyond a reasonable doubt, but merely by a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not) that the person committed the violation. IC 35-38-2-3. The defendant still has a right to cross-examine and confront the witnesses.
If the court finds that the allegation is proved, the court can impose sanctions. These sanctions can be anything from continuing on probation, adding additional time to the length of probation, imposing new requirements of probation, or revoking probation and sentencing the person to some or all of their backup time in jail or on community corrections.
Indianapolis Probation & Criminal Defense Attorney
At Chambers Law Office, we represent clients facing misdemeanor and felony charges and those who are currently serving probation in Indiana, including in Marion County, Hamilton, Hancock, Boone, Shelby and Johnson Counties. As a former Marion County deputy prosecutor, Julie Chambers has years of experience in the criminal courts. If you have questions about probation in Indiana, contact Chambers Law Office today at 317-450-2971.