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Probation in Colorado

After a conviction, that is, if you plead guilty or are found guilty at trial, the judge must decide whether to impose jail or give you probation. The judge considers many factors when making this decision. Some of them are obvious, such as whether the judge thinks you are a danger to other people, the facts of the offense that brought you into court, whether you should be punished, how the victim feels about it, and the needs of you, the defendant. The judge also looks at your prior record, especially if you have a prior conviction for a similar offense. The District Attorney's statements at sentencing will also have an effect. Your lawyer will help you gather the facts that help to "mitigate" the court's perception of you and of your case. In fact, before you even get before the judge, your lawyer will be talking with the District Attorney to get him to recognize the mitigation in your case, so that his statements against you at sentencing will be reasonable.

The intended purpose of probation is to "rehabilitate" you, the defendant. You'll be expected to complete a schedule of classes that are intended to prevent future actions and behavior like that which got you charged with a crime in the first place. You're also required to complete community service hours as well. In a sense, probation is the courts means of keeping control over you, or technically speaking "jurisdiction" over you. "Supervised" probation requires that you report to a probation officer on a regular basis, while "unsupervised" probation means that you do not have to report to anyone (however, you may still have the same requirements to complete).

Probation Revocation Hearing
Should you fail to comply with the requirements of your probation, the District Attorney and your probation officer may file what is called a "complaint and report." This will bring you into court for a probation revocation hearing. If your probation is revoked, you may then be sentenced to jail or prison just as though you were being sentenced for the first time in your case. You may also have additional community service, rehabilitation programs, or fines added to your sentence. For example, in a Domestic Violence case, if you did not go to your classes this may cause the judge to revoke your probation. If this occurs, the judge has a wide range of options available to him or her. He may send you to jail or prison, or he may simply order you to begin your classes over again. A criminal defense lawyer will help you maximize the possibility that things will go your way. Your lawyer must have the experience to understand what issues the judge will focus on when making these decisions, and what arguments will help the most to avoid jail.

The type of violation referred to above is called a "technical" violation. The other type of probation violation is a "new offense" violation, which occurs if you are charged with another crime. In this case, you must be found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of the new charge before it can be used as the basis for a probation revocation.

Sexual Assault Crimes
Probation requirements for sexual offense crimes in Colorado are substantially more demanding. If you are charged with such an offense, please review our sexual assault information.

Domestic Violence
The continuing crime and problem of the physical beating of a wife, girlfriend or children, usually by the woman's male partner.

Proof Beyond a Reasonable DoubtHighest burden of proof in a criminal case, placed normally on the prosecution. Because under common law the defendant is presumed innocent, his or her guilt must be proven to the entire satisfaction of the judge or jury.

A chance to remain free, or serve only a short time, given by a judge to a person convicted of a crime instead of being sent to jail or prison, provided the person can be good. Probation is only given under specific court-ordered terms, such as performing public service work, staying away from liquor, paying a fine, maintaining good behavior, getting mental therapy and reporting regularly to a probation officer.