Probation vs. Jail
Probation is the judge's alternative to jail. If you are convicted of a charge that does not carry a mandatory jail sentence, and you are probation eligible, the judge may be persuaded that probation is the appropriate sentence. It is important to be well prepared to convince the judge that jail is not necessary in your case.
Probation revocations can occur either because you have been charged with a new crime, or because you failed to follow some or all of the court's orders. If probation is revoked, the judge has the same sentencing power he had originally on the charge, unless a "cap" was previously set by the attorneys and agreed to by the judge in the case.
Probation in Colorado
Following a conviction, the judge must decide whether to grant probation. The judge may consider many factors, including: the safety of the public; the nature of the offense; the interests of justice, including punishment and reintegration of the defendant into the community; the loss to the victim; and the needs of the defendant. Probation is enforced by the threat of being sentenced to jail if you fail to comply with your requirements.
You may also get probation as a result of pleading guilty to a crime, or accepting a plea offer. Supervised probation is under the supervision of a probation officer while unsupervised probation is without formal supervision. The purpose of probation is to rehabilitate the defendant. Generally, you will be required to complete a program of classes that are designed to address the actions and behavior that got you charged with a crime. You are generally expected to complete community service requirements as well.
Failing to comply with the requirements of your probation can lead to revocation of the probation and you may be sentenced to jail or prison. Other consequences include additional fines, additional community service, and additional rehabilitation programs. For example, if you are kicked out of your domestic violence classes because you did not go, this may trigger the revocation of your probation. You could either be sentenced to jail / prison, or the judge may simply order you to begin your classes over from the beginning.
Because the judge has so much discretion when deciding whether to revoke your probation if you do something wrong, a good Colorado criminal attorney can go a long way to protect your freedom. Your attorney must have the experience to know what the judge will be concerned about, and what arguments will help you. My clients count on me to aggressively pursue all of the alternatives to being sentenced to jail or prison.