When it comes to whether or not a person is going to be placed on probation or whether or not that person will be sent to prison and then put on parole, this really has a lot to do with a number of different factors.
First and foremost, the authorities are going to look at the type of crime you’ve committed.
If you’re a first-time offender of a non-violent crime, a lot of times those people are going to get probation and they’ll have to report to the probation department and they’ll be given certain terms and conditions of probation.
Where people get confused is, they think that because you got probation, you didn’t get any criminal conviction.
Pleading Guilty or No Contest to a Crime
In order to be placed on probation, whether it be a misdemeanor or a felony probation, you’ve got to plead guilty or no contest to a charge.
That’s how the judge has the authority to put you on probation in the first place.
So, if they’re talking about putting you on probation, that means they’re going to want you to plead guilty or no contest to a crime. That’s the first important thing you need to know about probation. The second thing is:
- just because somebody gets a probationary sentence doesn’t mean they’re not going into custody;
- doesn’t mean they’re not going into jail.
You could, for a felony case, get probation and be put in jail for one year or you could get probation and be placed in custody for no time or anywhere in between.
So, just because you get probation doesn’t mean you don’t get jail.
Serving a Small Percentage of Time in County Jail
In today’s county jail environment in Los Angeles county, for cases that are being prosecuted and punished in the San Fernando Valley, those individuals will either be housed in county jail or Wayside or even Twin Towers.
And even they do get a jail sentence anywhere from 0 to a year in jail, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll serve the full time. The percentage of time is very small:
- either 10% to 25% depending on the type of crime, and
- how crowded it is in the county jail.
It’s been that way now for close to a decade that I’ve been practicing criminal defense. So, it really gives you a fighting chance to get out of there quickly.
New Polices by Los Angeles District Attorney
When you talk about going to prison on a case in the San Fernando Valley, that’s usually going to be somebody with a criminal record or a serious and violent felony.
One big thing though that you should take into account as I write this post, the new policies by the Los Angeles County District Attorney who will be dealing with cases in the San Fernando Valley and the other 38 courts in LA county, has indicated that he wants his prosecutors to presume that the case they’re looking at is a probation case.
They can only seek prison, obviously, if it’s some sort of a serious or violent felony:
But beyond that, they’re to assume it’s a probation case. If they think they want to give a sentence of prison instead of probation, the prosecutor who is thinking that is going to have to justify it.
They have to send a memo up to the powers that be in the DA’s office and they will make the final decision, whether a defendant is offered prison to settle a case.
So, when you talk about probation versus prison, obviously the prosecutors have a big say-so, and right now, the pendulum has really swung in a criminal defendant’s favor.
Another entity, though, that has the say-so, is the judge. So, your attorney is going to have to know how to work between the judge and the prosecutors in trying to get you the best possible resolution if you’re facing prison in a criminal case.
Coronavirus Impact on Prison Time
The final important factor when you’re talking probation versus prison is that right now, again as I write this post and it’s been this way for a number of months since the Coronavirus, nobody is really going to prison.
The prison’ can’t take people because of the way they’re set up. Once somebody comes into prison, a lot of those people are bringing in the Coronavirus so the prisons have had to basically shut down.
So, you have a lot of people right now who are serving sentences in the county jail that are really prison sentences, but because they can’t go into prison, they end up serving their sentence — a lot of them their entire sentence — in the county jail.
This is not good because you’d rather serve a prison sentence in prison because typically, depending on what type of a crime it is:
- you’re really only doing a third of the time for a case where you’re sent to prison;
- whereas, in the county jail, you probably do a little bit more of the time, possibly half of the time, if you’ve got a prison case.
The bottom line is nobody wants to go to prison. Nobody wants to go to jail.
Criminal Defense for California Crimes
The best chance that you have to stay out of prison or stay out of jail and to protect your record is to hire a criminal defense attorney like me.
I’ve been doing this now for 27 years, has handled thousands of cases throughout the San Fernando Valley and knows what it takes to get you the best result.
Pick up the phone now. Ask for a meeting with Ron Hedding. I stand at the ready to help you.
Hedding Law Firm is a criminal defense law firm located in the San Fernando Valley area of Los Angeles County at 16000 Ventura Blvd #1208 Encino, CA 91436.
Contact us for a free case evaluation at (213) 542-0940.