Probation in Minnesota

What is Probation?

Probation is a generic term that applies to felony, gross misdemeanor and misdemeanor sentences that are not executed. Executed sentences are those require you to serve jail or prison time. Upon completion of that sentence, you are no longer under any court ordered supervision. The Court generally has the option of not executing the sentence, and instead can “stay” a sentence and requiring a term of probation. When the Court stays a sentence, the Court “hangs” a sentence over the probationer’s head. This gives the court the option of ordering some, or all, of the sentence in the event that the defendant fails to abide by the terms of probation. Which will result in a "probation violation". In the event of a probation violation, it is in the defendant best interest to obtain a lawyer to avoid any other charges or to reduce the consequences of said violation.

What Conditions of Probation Can the Court Order?

The Court has fairly broad authority when imposing conditions of probation.

The conditions of probation can include:

  • Jail time
  • Electronic house arrest
  • Community service
  • Fines

There can be additional conditions such as:

  • Mental health treatment
  • Drug or alcohol treatment
  • Anger management
  • Domestic violence programming
  • Sex offender treatment.
  • Random drug/alcohol testing
  • Meetings with probation
  • Prohibitions on contact with locations or individuals
  • Requirement to remain law abiding.

The level of contact that a probationer has with his or her agent is generally tied to the severity of the underlying offense and the individual’s criminal history. Someone who has little or no criminal history and is on probation for a misdemeanor might only see their agent quarterly. Someone on probation for a serious felony or with a lengthy criminal history might see their agent monthly, bi-weekly, or even weekly. Failure to attend these meetings or to follow the other conditions can result in a probation violation.

How Long Can I Be Placed on Probation?

Generally, the period of probation depends on the offense. Probation for most misdemeanors is capped at one year. However, the Court can place someone on probation for up to two years for a misdemeanor DWI, domestic assault, interference with privacy, obscene or harassing telephone calls, or indecent exposure. The probationary period for gross misdemeanors is generally two years; however, it can be up to six years if the conviction is for DWI, criminal vehicular operation, or criminal sexual conduct in the fifth degree. Felony probation carries a minimum of four years of probation and can be ordered up to the statutory maximum period of imprisonment that could have been ordered. Generally speaking, individuals who are successful and complete their conditions of probation will be discharged early from probation. Failure to abide by probation or complete its terms will obviously extend the length of time that someone is on probation.

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