When somebody is put on probation the Judge will give that person certain terms and conditions of their probation that they have to follow and sometimes that means they actually have to do some things. For example, they've got to do community service, Cal Trans, community labor, the PAWS program. They might have to do AA meetings. They might have to do domestic violence courses. There are all sorts of things that can be ordered depending on what the crime is and what the prosecutors and Judge think will benefit the person, and also what your criminal defense attorney works out for you.
In order to keep track to make sure that the person is doing what they're supposed to do and they don't have a bunch of cases where people are not doing what they're ordered, and then basically the criminal justice system just becomes a farce where nobody's doing what they're supposed to, the courts will have what is called Progress Reports.
Basically, they're going to set a court date and they're going to tell you that you have to show up on that court date and you have to show proof that you're doing everything that you have to, and they keep bringing you back. Some courts will bring you back every thirty days. Other courts will bring you back every ninety days. I've seen courts bringing people back every six months, every year. Sometimes they'll bring you back into the actual courtroom where your case is pending so the Judge can check on you.
Other times, if they want to keep their court calendar as clear as possible, they'll send you to the clerk's office. You'll go to the clerk. You'll show them what you're doing. If you're messing up and not doing what you're supposed to, a lot of times the day that you go, the clerk will send you back into the court and then they will give the court the file and the court's going to look at you and ask, what's going on? You were ordered to do your domestic violence course and you haven't done one of them. So, would you want me to throw you in jail for 180 days and then ask you about it?
So, the progress report is meant to check on you to make sure that you're doing your work. Usually, you can actually handle the progress report yourself if you're doing everything you're supposed to — you show up, you give it to the bailiff or the clerk. They take it. They show it to the Judge, the Judge calls the case and you're out of there.
Why It's Important to Retain a Lawyer for a Progress Review Hearing
If you're going to have issues though, you're going to obviously want to have your attorney present. Your attorney can explain what's going on more effectively to the Judge in a progress report situation than you can. Let's say for example, you didn't do what you were supposed to, but you have a good reason for it. You need a little bit more time. Your attorney can show up, tell the court you didn't do what you were supposed to. You need an extension of time and explain to the Judge why, and a lot of times the Judges will be reasonable and they'll give you that extra time that you need.
Other times, depending on the circumstances, they may not be as reasonable and they may either threaten you with jail or actually put you in jail. For example, let's say the court ordered you to do thirty days of community labor and they gave you a year to do it. In a year, you come back for your progress report. You haven't done one day and are now facing a probation violation.
The Judge is going to look at you and go, listen, what do you want me to do with you? You're not doing what you're supposed to. Most people have a bunch of excuses — they have to work; they have a family and they have all sorts of things going on. Well, then you're probably going to put the court in a position where they're just going to throw you in jail for a period of time. Then when you get out you'll be done and they don't have to deal with you anymore. But, if you actually have an excuse –you have a reason — maybe you've done some of it.
Maybe you've done some of the other things but couldn't do certain things because you didn't have the money — whatever the case may be — then you're going to have to go in there, face the music and explain things to the Judge.
You're always in the best position in a progress report situation where you haven't done what you're supposed to if you go in there with a criminal defense attorney. Explain to the attorney what happened. The attorney can deal with it much more quickly and effectively than you can and can set things up much more easily so that you can be successful, get you another chance, get a new date set so you can come in and do what you're supposed to.
Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney
So, it's pretty clear these progress reports are important because number one, you can get in trouble if you're not doing what you were supposed to and get additional punishment. Also, I think they're important because ultimately in a lot of these cases, people want to get their records cleared. They want to get the case dismissed. They want to get what's called an expungement or dismissal in California or they want to get their case reduced down to a misdemeanor under California Penal Code 17b, or maybe then they want to get their probation terminated earlier, which is allowed under California Penal Code 1203.3.
Well, how are you going to do that? Show us your progress reports. Show that you're making progress. Show that you're doing everything you're supposed to so the Judge will be happy with you, see that you're on the right road and give you a break — let you out of the criminal justice system.
Believe it or not, they don't want you in there. Their courts are clogged up. They're a mess. They want people out of there, but if you're not taking care of business they're going to do things that make your difficult that you just simply don't want. Call our law firm for help.