Justice For All - August 2012
Almost without exception anyone convicted of a felony in Iowa and not sent to prison will be placed on supervised probation with the Department of Correctional Services for a period of two to five years. Defendants convicted of an aggravated or serious misdemeanor may also be placed on supervised probation, albeit for a shorter period of time than felons. Iowa law requires that defendants enter into probation agreements. The conditions of these agreements vary. Some probation conditions could be described as “good citizen” requirements while others force defendants to refrain from actions that are universally enjoyed by law abiding citizens.
Every defendant on supervised probation will be required to obey all laws, federal and state, as well as any city ordinances. Defendants must advise their probation officer within a short period of time, typically 24 hours, of any arrests or citations. Maintaining a suitable residence approved by the probation officer is a requirement as is securing, maintaining, and providing verification of employment. Defendants who can’t find employment must make a daily effort to find a job or alternatively enroll in an educational program. Probation officers carefully monitor the process. Other requirements typically include: maintaining liability insurance or refraining from driving a vehicle, complying with a plan of restitution to victims and for court costs and fines, maintaining specific contact with the probation officer, submitting to a drug test, and participating in a substance abuse evaluation at an approved agency and complying with all recommendations.
While not to the extent that a prison term would, probation agreements require that defendants give up certain liberties that every free citizen enjoys. For example, agreements routinely prohibit the defendant from: leaving the county without prior written permission, being outside his or her residence during certain hours (curfew), entering any establishment whose primary source of income is from the sale of alcohol, drinking any alcoholic beverage and owning, operating, or possessing a firearm. These rights, some of which are constitutionally protected, were forfeited when the defendant was convicted and sentenced to probation.
Defendants are informed that a violation of any term or condition imposed in their probation agreement has a consequence. The consequence can be a jail sentence of up to 180 days for contempt of court, revocation of a deferred judgment, placement in a residential facility for a period of up to one year or until maximum benefits are reached, or full revocation of probation and imposition of the previously suspended prison sentence (the maximum penalty). The penalty each defendant receives depends in large part on the nature of the violation or violations.
The goal of probation is to use all suitable methods to aid and encourage the defendant to bring about improvements in their conduct and condition. When effective, probation and the conditions associated with it will rehabilitate the defendant, save taxpayers the money associated with long-term incarceration, and bring about justice for all.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 02 October 2012 10:03