Why You Might Want To Go Directly To Jail Instead Of Probation

Most people who have been charged with a crime will do anything to avoid jail time. However, a large number of people who are offered a plea deal or sentencing choice between jail or probation actually end up choosing jail. Here's why you might want to take a jail sentence instead of a probation sentence.

You Still Have a Criminal Record

The most important thing to understand is that probation doesn't mean that you weren't convicted of a crime. You will still have a criminal record regardless of how you are sentenced, and few people differentiate between a convict who went to jail and a convict who served probation for the same crime.

The only thing to note is that during plea bargaining, if there are different sentencing offers, they may be tied to a different charge, so ask your lawyer if there is any difference between the specific crimes you might be asked to plead guilty to.

Jail Is Over Sooner

Sentences of probation are generally measured in years. Unlike with jail time, the judge has little discretion to change the length of probation.

By contrast, if you are being offered the possibility of probation, the potential jail sentence may only be a few days or a few weeks. Instead of having years of probation appointments and monitoring, you could be done with probation much sooner.

This has an especially big impact on your job. It might be easier to take a short personal leave (or delay your job search if you were fired) than it will be to constantly get time off to make mandatory meetings with your probation officer.

Probation Can Be Revoked

If you're sentenced to probation, you must follow strict terms. In addition to meeting with your probation officer regularly, you will have to pass drug tests, avoid getting into any trouble with the law at all, and attend rehab or counseling sessions.

If you don't closely adhere to the terms of your probation, you may be charged with a violation of probation and brought before a judge. If the judge decides the violation was serious enough, they may revoke your probation and sentence you to up to the maximum jail sentence that you were originally facing. They may also allow you to remain on probation but impose stricter terms that make your life even more difficult.

To learn more about whether it's best to take a jail or probation option in your specific case, talk to a criminal defense attorney like Wojick Stephen R.