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On probation, and the pitfalls of this deceiving status


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Early last month, we wrote a blog post about the bail system and how a new process for bail could dramatically improve the way we deal with people who are accused of a crime. People are certainly working on it, and hopefully someday soon we will see the fruits of their labor. But in the meantime, we are stuck with a less-than-perfect bail system.

Another critical cog in the criminal justice system is probation, and today, we take a look at why that system too isn’t as great as many may think it is.

Probation does help people avoid jail time, and that certainly is a good thing. But it also heaps many requirements and court dates (often in very obtuse fashion) on the individual on probation. This can lead to a lot of confusion and a lot of money lost in court fees, fines, penalties and missed work. It also costs money just to be on probation. It’s a condition of the status.

In our source article, there is an unfortunate outline of how one women who was accused of drunk driving — her first criminal act in 40 years of life — suffered needlessly while on probation. She lost her license; she lost multiple jobs; and the courts canceled dates and set others, leading to a lot of confusion that could have resolved her case (if they hadn’t canceled) or spared her more  pain (if the dates were properly handled).

It is a reminder to everyone out there that probation isn’t easy, and if you are placed on probation, it behooves you to have a knowledgeable and experienced attorney on your side that will keep track of your probation. Staying organized and on top of probation can help the individual get through the whole process efficiently and effectively.

Source: New York Times, “Probation May Sound Light, but Punishments Can Land Hard,” Shaila Dewan, Aug. 2, 2015

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