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How to Get Probation in Philadelphia


3/2/2020

Criminal convictions often lead to severe consequences. Not only can you face jail time, significant fines, and other criminal sanctions, but you also risk your reputation, your job, and even your future. That said, with the help of an experienced Philadelphia criminal defense attorney on your side, you might be eligible for probation instead of more serious criminal penalties.

If you have criminal charges pending against you and want to do everything you can to lessen the impact this experience has on your life, you should explore your options with Wimmer Criminal Defense as soon as possible. Call our office today to schedule a free case evaluation with a Philadelphia criminal defense lawyer.

Criminal Case Process in Pennsylvania

In Pennsylvania, most criminal cases follow a similar course. An alleged crime occurs, and the suspect is arrested. A base-level magisterial district court or municipal court holds a preliminary hearing to determine the future of the case and if it should go to trial in the Court of Common Pleas. The burden of proof for the Commonwealth at the preliminary hearing is very low. The Commonwealth must only present enough evidence to satisfy its prima facie burden, i.e. presenting a small amount of evidence to establish each element of every crime charged. The preliminary hearing can be waived by the defendant, which will bind the case over to the Court of Common Pleas. If it is not waived, the defendant may be able to plead guilty or the case will continue to the Court of Common Pleas where it will be listed for arraignment and then trial. Defendants should always discuss their options with a criminal defense lawyer to determine the best course of action in their case. Philadelphia criminal defense attorney Lauren Wimmer is available to discuss your case in Philadelphia, Delaware, Chester, Bucks and Montgomery County.

Trials for serious crimes happen in the Court of Common Pleas, which are trial courts of general jurisdiction. These courts also handle appeals from the municipal courts and cases involving families and children.

If a defendant is convicted of a crime, a separate hearing will be held for sentencing. After sentencing, the defendant has ten days to file a Post-Sentence Motion and thirty days to appeal their conviction in Superior Court. If they are not satisfied with the result of that appeal, they can take their case to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

Will You Get Probation in Pennsylvania?

Probation is a type of sentence in Pennsylvania, not an order that takes the place of a sentence. It is governed by Section 9722 of the Pennsylvania Sentencing Code and is considered an alternative to traditional sentencing options. The court is more likely to grant probation if you:

  • Not have caused or threatened serious harm
  • Did not consider that your actions would cause or threaten serious harm
  • Acted under a strong provocation
  • Acted because the victim induced or facilitated your actions
  • Compensated or will compensate the victim for their damage or injury caused by your crime
  • Have no history of prior delinquency or criminal activity
  • Have led a law-abiding life for a significant period of time before this incident
  • Committed a crime as a result of circumstances that are not likely to reoccur
  • Have the character and attitude that indicates you are unlikely to commit another crime
  • Are likely to respond positively to probation
  • Would place undue hardship on yourself or your dependents if you faced other penalties

When you hire a criminal defense lawyer in Philadelphia, they can work towards building a case for the court to sentence you to probation instead of more severe penalties such as jail time.

The Terms of Your Probation

If you are granted probation, the court must determine at the time of your sentencing how long your probationary period will be. It cannot exceed the time frame for which you could have been confined if you did not receive probation.

When you are granted probation, the court must also define who will have the authority to supervise your term. Possible options include the county probation department, the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole, or some other authority. The supervision of your probation will usually depend upon where your case was prosecuted or would have been transferred.

What the Courts Expect from You During Your Probation Period

Probation is not a free pass that allows you to stay or get out of jail and do what you want. It comes with specific requirements and expectations that your Philadelphia criminal defense attorney should ensure you are aware of. Not adhering to the conditions of your probation can land you in jail and incur additional consequences. Your criminal defense attorney can help ensure that you fully understand the conditions of your probation so that you can abide by them. In general, while on probation, you are expected to:

  • Uphold your family responsibilities
  • Pursue a specific occupation or employment, a prescribed secular course of study, or vocational training
  • Receive available medical or psychiatric treatment, including entering and staying in a specified institution
  • Attend or live in a facility established for the instruction, recreation, or residence of individuals serving a probation sentence
  • Refrain from visiting unlawful or disreputable places or consorting with disreputable individuals
  • Not possess any firearms or other dangerous weapons unless you are granted written permission
  • Pay restitution in an amount you can afford to pay for the losses caused by your crime
  • Stay within the jurisdiction of the court and to alert the court or the probation officer of any change to your address or place of employment
  • Report as directed to the court or the probation officer
  • Allow the probation officer to visit your home
  • Pay any imposed fines\
  • Participate in any mandated drug or alcohol treatment programs
  • To meet any other conditions related to your rehabilitation that are not unduly restrictive your liberty or incompatible with your freedom of conscience
  • Stay on the premises of your residence during hours chosen by the court

Learn More About Probation from a Philadelphia Criminal Defense Lawyer

Probation is an attractive alternative to traditional sentencing for many crimes. It can be the answer to mitigating the poor decisions you made and helping you get your life back on track. Getting probation in Philadelphia will heavily depend upon the circumstances of your crime, your past criminal history, your ability to follow the orders of the court, and the representation of your criminal defense attorney in Philadelphia.

Ready to schedule your legal consultation with an experienced criminal defense lawyer in Philadelphia? Call Wimmer Criminal Defense Law today at 215-712-1212 or use our convenient online contact form.