How Much Does a Probation Lawyer Cost?
by Unbundled Legal Help
If you’re facing criminal charges, you may face jail time. However, sometimes, a judge may grant a different type of sentence, called probation.
Probation can help keep you out of prison after being charged with a crime. If you’re interested in getting legal help with your criminal case, Unbundled Legal Help can put you in touch with a local probation attorney who may be able to help.
Probation lawyers can be costly. An unbundled probation lawyer may be exactly what you need.
What Is Probation?
When you face misdemeanor or felony charges, the judge can impose various types of sentences, such as prison time. Probation is often granted when a prison sentence is “suspended,” meaning prison time is taken off the table only if the defendant agrees to comply with rules and obligations.
When a judge sentences you to probation, it entails a specified period in which you remain jail-free and in the community, but with court-ordered supervision.
Probation is not available in every circumstance. To determine whether you’re eligible for probation, discuss your case with a probation lawyer.
How Does Probation Work?
A judge will decide the terms of your probation. They may grant straight probation, meaning you don't go to jail at all, or they may impose a short jail sentence before your probation begins.
During your probation, you must comply with certain conditions. If you follow these rules throughout your probation, you can complete your probation, and your sentence will end. If at any point you violate these conditions, the judge can revoke your probation and order you to serve time in jail.
For example, suppose you are facing charges for drug possession and three years of jail time. A judge may decide alternatively to sentence you to four years of probation. If you complete the four years with no violations, you will have successfully completed your probation sentence. If one year into your sentence, you violate a condition, the judge may terminate your probation and order you to serve the original three-year prison sentence.
Probation provides an opportunity to stay out of jail, but should always be taken seriously. Ignoring rules and conditions can mean serious consequences.
Rules and Conditions To Follow during Probation
The judge will explicitly set forth the conditions of your probation sentence. They will vary, but can include:
- Obeying all laws
- No using or possessing of illegal drugs
- Paying any required fees or fines
- Reporting to a probation officer at specified times
- No traveling outside the state without permission
- Attending drug counseling or rehabilitation
- Maintaining employment
- Submitting to random drug tests
- Avoiding communication with certain individuals
- Allowing for GPS monitoring
Your conditions will depend on the circumstances of your case.
Will I Have a Probation Officer?
This will depend on your state and the type of probation. Most states offer informal and formal probation.
During informal probation, you do not have a probation officer supervising your sentence. Instead, you will be required to show up to court on certain occasions.
If sentenced to formal probation, you can expect to have a probation officer. You will need to check in with your probation officer in person or by phone, typically once monthly.
If the judge assigns you to a probation officer, the officer serves as a resource to help ensure you are following all guidelines on the path to successful completion of your probation sentence.
What Happens if I Violate Probation?
If you violate probation, this means you have failed to comply with the conditions of your probation. Repercussions will depend on the laws in your state and on how the judge wishes to handle your case.
If you have a probation officer, and they discover a violation, they may have the discretion to give you a warning or inform the judge. If the court gets involved, you will likely have to attend a violation hearing.
During the hearing, the prosecutor must provide proof that you violated the rules of your probation. You will also have the opportunity to represent yourself, or have a lawyer represent you, to argue against the allegations.
If a judge finds you did violate your probation, they can:
- Revoke your probation
- Send you to jail
- Assess fines
Their decision is up to them and state laws.
If The Judge Revokes My Probation, Can I Appeal?
Yes, in most states you may appeal the judge’s revoking your probation. If you win your appeal, the violation is dismissed.
How Long Is Probation?
There is no average time with probation. The length of your probation sentence will depend on certain factors, including:
- The crime committed
- Whether it is a misdemeanor or felony
- Whether or not this is your first offense
- How your specific state handles probation
Probation is often one to three years, but can last longer. Depending on the circumstances and laws, probation can last 10 years or more, or even life in some cases.
Is There a Difference between Probation and Parole?
Yes, there is a difference between probation and parole. Nonetheless, the two share some similarities.
Probation allows you to remain out of jail. Parole, on the other hand, is usually granted to individuals already in prison, after serving all, or part, of their prison sentence.
Both probation and parole require individuals to comply with conditions to avoid further trouble with the law. If someone on probation fails to follow the rules, the judge can sentence them to jail. If an individual on parole breaks the rules, the judge can return them to prison.
How Can I Get Probation?
First, determine whether you are eligible for probation.
Certain factors may put you in a more favorable position to get probation, depending on your state’s laws. A judge will consider:
- Whether you’re a first-time offender, and if not, the extent of your criminal record
- The severity of the crime which you are being charged with
- Whether the crime was violent and caused anyone harm
- The effect of prison time versus probation
Note that just because you may be eligible for probation does not mean it is guaranteed.
In most cases, it is up to the prosecutor and/or the judge if you can get probation as opposed to jail time. You will have the opportunity to ask for probation during plea negotiations or at the time of your sentencing.
To inquire about your eligibility for probation, discuss your case with a probation attorney. They can help decide whether it is feasible to ask for probation, and if it is, they can assist with your case. An attorney has the knowledge and experience to represent you and help get you probation.
Consult with a Probation Lawyer
For probation sentences, an attorney will be your best ally. Court visits and sentencing are nothing to play around with, as they can have a significant impact on your life and future.
A probation lawyer has the experience to handle the most important tasks for your case, such as advocating in court on your behalf. They’ll know what details to provide in their argument and what evidence can help get you probation instead of jail time.
Additionally, if you face revocation of your probation because of a violation, a probation lawyer can represent you at your hearing.
You do not have to handle your case alone. A qualified attorney can help get you probation.
How Much Does a Probation Lawyer Cost?
There is no set price for a probation lawyer.
In many cases, if you hire a traditional probation attorney, you will have to pay a retainer fee before they begin working on your case. Subsequently, your lawyer will require payment for every hour they work on your case. Hourly fees vary greatly, often costing between $200 to $750 an hour.
Getting legal help can be extremely costly. For this reason, many individuals forgo hiring a criminal defense attorney and instead settle for a public defender. Unfortunately, public defenders do not always have your best interest at heart.
An Unbundled Lawyer May Be the Answer
Getting the legal assistance you need doesn’t have to come with such a high price tag. An unbundled lawyer may be able to help.
An unbundled lawyer is a lawyer like any other, but their prices are quite different from a traditional attorney. When you hire an unbundled lawyer, you are hiring them with the understanding that they will only handle the key parts of your case, rather than your entire case start to finish. If you are willing to put in some of the work on your case, an unbundled lawyer can provide the legal aid you need while keeping costs low.
Unbundled Legal Help provides accessible legal assistance to those that need it most. We work with a large network of skilled attorneys always ready to lend a helping hand.
If you’re facing criminal sentencing and wish to acquire assistance getting probation, contact us today. We’ll match you with a probation lawyer to help you reach your goal.