The probation department is an important part of the criminal justice system. I personally don't have much respect for them because I find that they're lazy. They don't really do a very thorough job and they almost never look into the defendant's side of it.
They're mainly focused on whatever it is the police and prosecutors have written. But, the probation department is important. In order to resolve a case, you typically need to get a probation report where the client is either interviewed or they're not interviewed depending on what the strategy is in a criminal case.
I usually don't have my clients interviewed because I'm always concerned they're going to say something to the probation department and the next thing you know, the probation officer is going to be a witness in the case against them.
So, probation deals with cases before the case is actually ended with a conviction or a not guilty verdict and they also deal with a case after a person pleads guilty or no contest to a case. In other words, if you plead guilty or no contest, you get put on probation and it's a felony in Los Angeles, then you're going to have to deal with the probation department.
Probation Officer Monitors Activity for Compliance
They basically monitor you and make sure you're complying with the terms and condition of your probation, make sure you don't get arrested and they also obviously keep an eye on you. They can search your home.
If your crime is not that serious and if you're cooperative with the probation department and you/re not like a career criminal, a lot of times they'll just have you report either by kiosk or by mail and then it's pretty easy.
But yeah, they can stop you from traveling, they can make you be tested for drugs. There are all sorts of things that the probation department can do. Also, they write a report for the judge before the case is resolved, recommending what they think the sentence should be, running your criminal background, and talking about the case and the facts of the case.
They also try to call and talk to the alleged victims in the case and any witnesses in the case. They are supposed to serve as a liaison for the judge to show the judge the things about you and your case to help the judge in making a decision.
Unfortunately, I find them to be very lazy. They don't do a thorough job. I guess you could say they're over-worked with so many cases. I really think that the probation department is one of the areas that they should change the court system and cut them out and come up with a new system that's actually helpful to both the prosecution and the defense and also helpful to the judge in making the important decision as to what the sentence should be.
Ventura County actually has a much more hands-on probation department. Even though Ventura County is a tough courthouse, at least their probation department is on top of things and is relief on much more heavily by the prosecutor and judge in trying to figure out what the sentence is going to be for the defendant in a case.
Violations Sent To The Court
So, if you have any issues with the probation department, I would definitely use your attorney and get advice from your attorney so you don't do or say anything that causes them to violate you. That's another thing that they can do.
They can send a probation violation into the judge, so if you don't do something you're supposed to while you're on felony probation, they can alert the court and send you into court, right a report that you should be violated and punished for what you did or didn't do related to your probationary sentence.
So, this is key. I'm doing probation violations all the time. Sometimes we have to get the probation officer on the stand, ask him questions and try to show your side of the story. But when it comes to you against the probation department, it's not a good position to be in because the judge is going to settle things and a lot of times the judge is not going to settle things in your favor which can cause you to go to jail, to prison, cause you to lose certain things that you have related to your plea agreement.
So, the bottom line is you need to figure out how to deal with your probation officer and how to make sure that nothing is done that's negative towards you and you get out of the judicial system and out of the eyes of the probation officer as soon as possible so you can move on and live a normal life.