Probation is an alternative sentence that a judge may impose instead of incarceration in state prison or the county jail.  There also those instances where probation is not in lieu of imprisonment but rather as a condition to a more favorable period of incarceration (e.g. probation conditioned on 180 days in the county jail). Probation is different than Parole, which applies when someone fulfills a state prison term. However, a violation of either of these forms of supervision can result in an extension of the period of supervision or even incarceration. If you are interested in learning more about probation or related subjects like  Pretrial Intervention, Conditional Discharge, and Intensive Supervision, they are available on this site. You are also encourage to contact our Newark Criminal Firm for a free consultation with an experienced defense attorney.  An attorney is available 24/7 at 973-710-1520.

Conditions of Probation That A Court May Impose

The NJ Criminal Code sets forth thirteen (13) standard conditions that a Court may impose in total or any combination thereof. All of these conditions/requirements are intended to assist in the rehabilitation of a defendant as opposed to deprive them of their liberty.  Probation serves other goals than programs like Megan’s Law, etc., since the objective is not constant monitoring but rather to create stipulations that are supposed to insure that the accused has the best chance of achieving a law-abiding life. The aforesaid conditions are set forth on the “New Jersey Judiciary Standard Conditions of Probation” form adopted in Directive  #3-07 of the Administrative Office of the Courts and requires that:

  1. You shall obey all federal, state, and municipal laws and ordinances. You shall notify your probation officer if you are arrested or issued a summons in any jurisdiction.
  2. You shall report to your probation officer as directed.
  3. You shall answer truthfully all inquiries made by your probation officer.
  4. You shall permit your probation officer to visit your residence or any other suitable place.
  5. You shall submit at any time to a search conducted by a probation officer, without a warrant, of your person, place of residence, vehicle, or other personal property.
  6. You shall promptly report any change of address or residence to your probation officer. You must obtain permission from your probation officer if you wish to move outside the county or state. You may not leave the state of New Jersey for more than 24 hours without permission from your probation officer.
  7. You shall cooperate in any medical and/or psychological examinations, tests and/or counseling your probation officer recommends.
  8. You shall submit to drug or alcohol testing at any time, as directed by your probation officer.
  9. You shall support your dependents and meet your family responsibilities.
  10. You shall seek and maintain gainful employment, and promptly notify your officer when you change your place of employment or find yourself out of work.
  11. You shall not have in your possession any firearm or other dangerous weapon as defined in N.J.S.A. 2C: 39 et seq. If you possess a permit to purchase a handgun or a firearms purchaser identification card, you must surrender these documents promptly to your probation officer. In addition, if you presently own any weapons, they must either be surrendered to your local police department or to any other criminal justice agency designated by your probation officer.
  12. You shall make payments on any fine, penalty assessment, restitution or other financial obligation as provided by Court order. Failure to comply may result in further Court action, pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2C:46-2b; including attachment of your wages, filing of a civil judgment, and/or extension of your probation term.
  13. You shall provide a DNA sample as a condition of the sentence imposed, pursuant to DNA Database and Databank Act of 1994, N.J.S.A. 53:1-20.17, et seq. (see L. 1994, c. 136, as amended by L. 2000, c. 118, as amended by L. 2003, c. 183 effective Sept. 22, 2003) unless you are convicted of a disorderly persons offense or a petty disorderly persons offense.

In addition to these standard conditions, a court is free to impose any additional requirements that it deems appropriate to rehabilitate the accused.

Period of Probation: How Is The Term Determined?

A court/judge may impose up to five (5) years of probation in accordance with New Jersey Law. The minimum period is one (1) year although any term of probation can be reduced, at a later time following sentencing, on application to the court by a probation officer or the defendant. A probation officer has no authority to extend or reduce the term of probation without court approval. Notwithstanding, once the period of probation has been satisfied, the defendant is relieved of any obligation to fulfill the conditions imposed at sentencing.

Term of Imprisonment as Condition of Probation

When the court sentences a person who has been convicted of a crime to a term of probation, the court may require the defendant to serve a term of imprisonment not to exceed three hundred sixty four (364) days. The term of imprisonment is part of the sentence, and in the event of a subsequent revocation of probation and the imposition of a term of imprisonment, the defendant must be given credit for the term of imprisonment which was served at the earlier time under the sentence. For a disorderly persons offense, the court may also require a term of imprisonment as a condition of the order. The term cannot exceed ninety (90) days and the defendant is again afforded appropriate jail credit in the event probation is revoked (i.e. defendant is put into the county jail for violating).

Differences Between Probation and a Suspended Sentence

Individuals often ask us what the difference is between a suspended sentence and probation. When a court imposes a suspended sentence, it typically involves a specific term of incarceration that shall never be served provided the accused satisfies a certain condition(s). A example in this regard might be make restitution, perform community service, etc. There is not, however, any supervision that customarily applies with a suspended sentence such that it is often viewed as less burdensome that probation.

If you want to discuss a sentencing issue like probation with an skilled defense lawyer, please give us a call at 973-710-1520. Initial consultations are free of charge.