How to Deal with the Probation Department
Your First Contact With ProbationYour first contact with probation will occur after you are found guilty. In felony cases, the Judge must order a presentence report which is prepared by the probation department. In misdemeanor cases, a presentence report is discretionary unless it involves a drinking a driving offense. If you are convicted of a drinking and driving offense in Michigan, substance abuse evaluations are mandatory. When you are referred to the probation department for an investigation, you should rememeber that the probation officers have a huge caseload and are often unable to hold your hand through the process. I have found that the best way to deal with the probation officers is to help them help you! I advise my clients to:
1. Be early for any appointment, dress appropriateley .
2. Do not draw attention to flashy jewelry or clothing with messages.
3. Be extremely polite and do not display a bad attitude or hostility.
4. Have a folder with organized copies of any positive documents ready.
Your Probation Officer Writes Everything Down That You SayWhen talking to the probation officer, you should fare better by following the above guidelines. Your officer may have 100's of clients. The probation officer has power to make numerous recommendations to the Judge about your sentence conditions. If you can show the probation officer that you are someone who does not need to be managed or supervised by the system, you may save yourself from having burdensome conditions imposed. In this regard, if you need counseling, you may want to begin a program before your appointment and provide proof of counseling at the appointment. You will not benefit from lying to the probation officer about your past because it will look worse if you are caught in a lie. However, do not volunteer information because it will go into your file. For example, if you used cocaine 20 years ago and it doesn't show up on your record and is no longer an issue, do not volunteer this information which may result in additional probation conditions.
After You Are Placed On ProbationAfter you are placed on probation, you may be required to report to a probation officer once per month or as directed by the Judge. Again, help the probation officer help you. Follow the guidelines in Section 1. If you are compliant, the probation officer may recommend that your probation be non-reporting or that your probation be terminated early. If you cannot comply with a condition of your probation, you should explain your situation to your probation officer as soon as possible. The probation officer may try to help you with this problem. If the probation officer does not help you, then you will need to file a motion to modify your probation before the same Judge that sentenced you. If you have been a good probationer, your officer may ever be able to help you when you have a hearing before the Judge. You will want to consult an attorney if you cannot comply with the conditions of your probation because you can be sentenced to jail time for a probation violation.