Summary probation is a type of inactive supervision of a person who has been convicted of a misdemeanor in California. Summary probation, or informal probation, is a replacement for a jail sentence where people who have not been deemed a risk to their community serve most or all of their sentence under court supervision, rather than incarceration.
If you or a loved one faces misdemeanor charges in California, call The Aron Law Firm to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney and learn whether summary probation is a possibility for you. Our Santa Barbara criminal defense attorneys may help you gain insight into your options to address the allegation to reach a positive outcome.
What Is Summary Probation in California?
Summary probation, or a “conditional sentence,” is defined under California Penal Code § 1203(a) as:
“The suspension of the imposition or execution of a sentence and the order of revocable release in the community subject to conditions established by the court without the supervision of a probation officer.”
Summary probation is much less demanding than formal (felony) probation and does not generally require sporadic meetings with a probation officer. However, the judge may schedule progress hearings to ensure completion of probation terms. Another contrast to formal probation is that there are no probation fees involved with summary probation.
While summary probation may replace a jail sentence, it may also require an initial jail term of up to one year before it goes into effect. That means summary probation does not guarantee that a person avoids jail time altogether.
Who Is Eligible for Summary Probation in California?
Summary probation may be offered to minimum-risk offenders in California, like juveniles or first-time offenders. Usually, the courts consider low-risk offenders less likely to reoffend and of minimal danger to their communities. This alternative to formal probation or a lengthy jail sentence may reduce the risk of a first-time offender turning into a habitual criminal and, ideally, cause a positive behavior change.
Summary probation is usually only offered in cases where an offender commits a:
- Low-level felony
A wobbler is a crime in California where the prosecution decides whether to press charges for a misdemeanor or a felony. Low-level felonies that may be eligible to receive summary probation may include theft, fraud, or drug or alcohol-related crimes.
What Are the Terms and Conditions of Summary Probation?
In California, judges have a broad level of discretion to enforce the probation terms they deem appropriate. The terms of summary probation may extend anywhere from one month to five years. Conditions of summary probation vary depending on the case and may include:
- Community service
- Restitution payments to the victim
- Mandatory attendance of drug or alcohol classes
- Refraining from using drugs and alcohol
- Maintaining employment or attending school through probation
The terms and conditions of summary probation may relate to the type of crime. For example, a judge may require someone convicted of multiple DUIs to install an interlock ignition device as part of their summary probation conditions.
May Summary Probation Be Modified or Terminated Early in California?
The judge has the discretion to impose probation terms and may also modify them or terminate the probation altogether. Probation modifications may be initiated by the judge, the prosecution, or the defendant.
Bear in mind that not all modifications are in the defendant's favor. The prosecution, for example, may request more strict terms following a probation violation. However, most revisions to summary probation benefit the person on probation.
Depending on the case, a California judge may also terminate summary probation early. Often, this occurs when a person completes all probation terms before the scheduled date without violations.
What Happens If I Violate the Terms of My Summary Probation?
If a defendant does not comply with their summary probation terms, they may face different consequences, depending on the violation. A judge may do one of the following:
- Overlook the violation
- Modify the probation order
- Revoke summary probation
If a judge revokes the summary probation, the probationer may be forced to serve their jail sentence. Depending on the type of violation, the judge may set the jail sentence for the maximum penalty for the initial crime or a more extended punishment if the breach involved a new offense.
Schedule a Free Consultation with a Santa Barbara Summary Probation Lawyer
The criminal defense lawyers at the Aron Law Firm have a thorough understanding of the California criminal courts and penal system. If you or someone you love faces criminal charges in California, contact the Aron Law Firm to discover potential strategies for a minimized sentence or summary probation. Schedule a free confidential case review today by completing a contact form or calling 805-618-1768.