Michigan Criminal Law: Conviction/Post Conviction; Probation and Probation Violations

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Michigan probation, broadly stated, is an alternative program to incarceration which may be ordered by a sentencing judge if someone has been convicted of either a misdemeanor or certain kinds of felony charges. Probation is not available if convicted of “murder, treason, armed robbery, criminal sexual conduct in the first or third degree, certain controlled-substance offenses, or felonies in which a firearm was used.” More information about specific corrections programs is available at the Michigan Department of Correction’s page.
Probation is also frequently ordered as part of diversionary programs such as the Holmes Youthful Trainee Act “HYTA” as well. It is also sometimes called “community supervision” or other terms. Probationary length is initially ordered by the court at sentencing and is limited to two years if convicted of a misdemeanor or up to five years if convicted of an eligible felony; however, this may be extended or delayed depending upon certain circumstances.
Probation is very different from parole. Parole is administered by the Michigan Department of Corrections. Probation programs are typically supervised by county or court probation officers, possibly under the supervision of MDOC, depending in part on whether a probationer is under felony or district court probation. If under probation, local courts retain jurisdiction and this program is centered around a list of court-orders that define the aspects of the program. Please click the following link for more information. Each probation department is unique and may have slightly different procedures than other comparable departments.
All probation orders start with the same basic list list as required by state law and are tweaked depending on the crime and probationer’s prior history. Some probationers have minimal requirements and may not even be required to report, i.e, “non-reporting;” however, other programs are very intensive. It depends on the alleged circumstances, the probationer’s prior history, court, and policies of the respective probation department. Judges, especially with district-court probation programs, have a lot of discretion to tailor the program to a particular probationer.
For example, one standard condition for a vast majority of probationers is that they are prohibited to have any further police contact while on probation. . Further, these orders may require probationers to abstain from activities, require treatment, supervision, do drug or alcohol testing, may require that a probationer seek employment, or a litany of other prohibitions or restrictions. These terms of probation are direct orders from the court. Probation orders are close to strict-liability
As long as a probationer faithfully follows every court order and has no issues, they will eventually be discharged successfully. If things go really well, they may, at the discretion of the court and their probation officer, be discharged early.
However, things do not always go smoothly. The list of terms may be long and the requirements strict, or an individual may just have issues complying with the court-orders for a litany of personal reasons or otherwise. There is a procedure in place for when things allegedly go wrong.
If, for example, a probation officer becomes aware that a probationer was picked up and charged with a criminal offense, the probation officer may request a show-cause hearing and accuse the probationer of violating the terms and conditions of their probation. Occasionally, probation officers wait until the disposition of the new case. This is a matter of professional discretion.
Any probationer accused of a probation violation has a limited, basic set of rights. These rights include the right to council, the right to request a hearing, the right to have witnesses appear at their behalf, among others. However, they do not have a right to a jury trial. The rules of evidence at this hearing are relaxed. The prosecutor has a lower burden of proof. Someone, theoretically, could be convicted of a probation violation even with evidence that would not be sufficient to meet the standard of proof in a criminal charge; proof beyond a reasonable doubt.
If convicted of a probation violation, the sentencing judge will review the original charge and can re-sentence a person to any applicable sanctions. In certain situations, people go to prison for felony probation violations.
People accused of a probation violation will be receive notice of the alleged infraction and will be given an arraignment date. If they fail to appear, then the arraigning judge may issue a bench warrant for their arrest. 
Our experienced trial attorneys are very knowledgeable about post-conviction issues and we fight hard for our Michigan clients. We represent clients statewide. For a free initial consultation, feel free to contact us at (517) 507-5077.Anyone charged, of course, is presumed innocent. The prosecutor would need to prove the elements of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt if the matter proceeded to trial. Simply because a person is charged does not mean that ultimately, they will be convicted.

If you need specific legal advice for your particular circumstances, I encourage you to privately consult with a lawyer. Circumstances may vary significantly. If you need specific legal advice, please privately consult with a lawyer.

If you are charged with an offense and cannot afford to pay for your own defense, the court may appoint you an attorney payable at the public’s expense. You have a right to counsel.