Probation is a common requirement of criminal sentences in Colorado. However, courts will impose different probationary requirements depending on the circumstances.
Courts may grant unsupervised probation in Colorado under certain circumstances. You must comply with the conditions of your probation, or you may face serious consequences.
An experienced Colorado criminal defense lawyer can help you understand the probation process, your rights, and your best options moving forward.
What Is Probation?
Probation is a type of condition or term of a sentence for criminal convictions.
During probation, the court may require the supervision of the offender and may require the offender to complete certain conditions as part of the probation sentence.
These conditions often include:
- Seeking employment and maintaining a job,
- Following a court-ordered curfew,
- Living in a specified location,
- Regularly meeting with and following a probation officer’s orders,
- Possessing a firearm only with court approval,
- Attending educational classes associated with the offender’s crime, and
- Performing required drug and alcohol classes or tests.
Most probation sentences require supervision by a probation officer to ensure the offender completes all the conditions of probation. However, in some circumstances, a court may allow unsupervised probation.
What is Unsupervised Probation in Colorado?
Courts may allow some offenders to participate in unsupervised probation.
Unsupervised probation in Colorado does not require a probation officer or a police officer to meet with the offender. Instead, the offender must check in directly with the court rather than meet with a probation officer.
Unsupervised probation may be allowed when the court believes:
- The offender will complete the conditions of probation without supervision,
- The offender will check in regularly with the court, and
- The offender poses little or no risk to the community.
Unsupervised probations often involve fewer requirements and shorter probationary periods. However, offenders on unsupervised probation must still follow certain conditions:
While on unsupervised probation, the offender may not:
- Commit a crime;
- Use illegal drugs or marijuana, even if legalized in the state if the probation prohibits it; or
- Leave the state without prior approval from the court.
Under House Bill 1267, people in Colorado who lawfully possess a medical marijuana license may continue to use marijuana for medical purposes. However, if a person is convicted of a medical marijuana-related offense, that person may not use medical marijuana while on probation.
However, courts may still prohibit the use of recreational marijuana during probation. Each court will impose different rules depending on the circumstances of the case. But marijuana use on probation is generally prohibited.
What are the Penalties for Violating Probation?
Probation violations can carry serious consequences.
If a court granted you unsupervised probation, this means the court trusts that you will complete the conditions of your probation on your own.
If you violate this trust, there may be serious consequences, including:
- Issuing an arrest warrant;
- Requiring you to post bail to be released from jail;
- Changing the terms of your probation, such as requiring supervision; or
- Removing probation altogether and requiring a jail sentence.
If you are accused of violating your probation, the court will schedule a probation hearing. If proven guilty, you may face serious consequences.
Can I End My Probation Early?
Under certain circumstances, a court may allow early termination of a probation sentence.
Under Colorado Statute 18-1.3-204, a defendant seeking early termination of probation must submit a motion to the court.
A court may grant early probation if:
- The defendant shows good cause for early termination; and
- The court provides notice of early termination to the defendant, probation officer, and the prosecutor.
The defendant must state a reason for early termination.
An offender can offer any of the following reasons for early termination:
- The defendant completed all required conditions of probation;
- The defendant paid all fines, fees, restitution, and other costs;
- The defendant did not face new charges or arrests during probation;
- The defendant’s probation officer supports early termination;
- The defendant remained sober and passed all sobriety tests during probation; or
- Any other reason offered by the defendant.
The court will consider several factors to determine the offender’s eligibility:
- The offender’s behavior during probation;
- Successful completion of court-ordered probation conditions;
- The views of the prosecutor and probation officer;
- The amount of time remaining on the probation sentence; and
- The defendant’s criminal history.
Receiving early probation offers numerous benefits. However, you will need to make a strong argument to the court for why you deserve early termination.
An experienced criminal defense lawyer understands what courts will consider when making their decision. Your lawyer can negotiate with the district attorney and your probation officer and make a strong argument to the court on your behalf.
Contact an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney
If you are on probation and have questions about your probation status, or would like to explore your options, you should contact a qualified Colorado criminal defense attorney.
The skilled team at Miller Leonard, P.C. have significant experience handling Colorado probation issues. We can help you understand your legal rights and navigate a probation violation case. For a free consultation, contact our offices at 720-613-8783 or fill out an online form today.