Probation in New York: Is it a good deal?

An example of a probation sentence gone wrong provides valuable lessons for anyone in a similar situation.

Getting charged with a crime can be a terrifying experience. In an attempt to reduce the impact of a potential conviction, it may be tempted to agree to a probation deal. Unfortunately, this "deal" may not work out well.

An example of a "deal" gone wrong

The many negative impacts that can result from a probation deal were recently highlighted in a piece published in The New York Times. The article followed the story of a 40 year-old woman who hosted a holiday party for family members back in 2013. After the party, she drove two guests home. She was stopped for speeding, allegedly clocked at 38 miles per hour in zone set for 25 miles per hour. She failed a breathalyzer test. She was charged with drunk driving and pleaded guilty in exchange for a probation deal. The deal consisted of entering a probation program that allowed her to avoid conviction, as long as she followed all the rules of the program.

The rules were strict. Over the span of a year and a half the woman found herself in violation for infringements like failing to request permission to move to a new unit within her apartment complex. These violations led to thousands of dollars in fees and a month imprisonment.

Lessons for those facing similar situations

Those who find themselves facing a similar situation can benefit from having a basic understanding for how probation works. In New York, probation is defined as:

[A] sentence or disposition imposed by a criminal court or family court. In general, probationers are released in the community without serving a period of local incarceration, although in certain circumstances they may be sentenced to both imprisonment (local) and probation; the sentence of incarceration shall be a condition of and run concurrently with a sentence of probation. Probation is a county function in New York State, although in New York City, the probation department is run by the City government. The Division of Probation and Correctional Alternatives (OPCA) provides regulatory oversight and funding to local probation departments.

Probation in New York results in specific supervision requirements, much like those noted in the story above. For example, imposition of community service can range from 70 to 500 hours depending on the details of the offense.

It is also wise for those who are charged with a crime to seek the counsel of an experienced criminal defense lawyer. This legal professional will review the details of your unique situation and advocate for your rights, working to better ensure a more favorable outcome.