Probation is a sentence of conditional supervision wherein the defendant is placed under the supervision of a probation officer who monitors the defendant for a period of time specified by the court. in Illinois there is a statutory presumption that defendants that are eligible for probation shall receive that sentence unless, when the Judge considers the nature and circumstances of the offense, and the history and character of the offender, the court is of the opinion that imprisonment is necessary for the protection of the public or a sentence of probation “would depreciate the seriousness of the offender’s conduct and would be inconsistent with the ends of justice.”
There are usually conditions placed upon the defendant during the fixed period of probation. These conditions can include that the probationer must report to a probation officer as directed, cannot violate any criminal statutes, must not possess a firearm, must not leave the state without permission, perform community service, submit to drug testing, pay restitution, fines, court costs, complete drug and alcohol treatment, and other conditions that the court determines appropriate. Although time in jail is not usually part of a probation sentence, a judge can sentence a person to home confinement or up to 6 months in the county jail, as a condition of the probation.
Probation is a conviction and an actual sentence on the offender. Failure to comply with the conditions imposed by the court may result in the revocation of the sentence of probation. If the probation officer or State’s Attorney believes any condition of the probation is not being complied with they will file a Petition to Revoke Probation, commonly referred to as a Violation of Probation. Once filed, the notice of what violations have occurred will be made known to the offender and a bond can be placed upon him to hold him in custody pending an evidentiary hearing on the non-compliance. the standard to prove that a violation occurred is proof by a preponderance of the evidence, not proof beyond reasonable doubt. Proof by a preponderance of the evidence, simply put, is whether it is more likely or not that the violations occurred. a judge, not a jury, will preside over the evidentiary hearing. During that hearing the defendant has the right to be represented by counsel, the right to confront and cross-examine the State’s witnesses, and the right to call witnesses on his own behalf. If the court determines that the terms of the probation have been violated the judge will resentence the offender to any sentence that was available at the time the offender received the original sentence of probation. This sentence could include a recommitment to probation, a modification of the terms of the probation, or jail time.