Conditions of Probation

A plea of guilty is a frequent outcome for criminal cases. As a part of a sentence, a defendant may be subject to a special set of rules, or conditions of probation. These rules could include a Fourth Amendment Waiver, a requirement to the defendant take drug tests, and/or any number of other conditions that a lot of people have to live with.judge.jpg

In cases where there is a victim, a defendant can be ordered to stay away from that person while the defendant is on probation. Clients sometimes incorrectly believe that if the client and the victim moved to another county, that these conditions won’t apply.

As long as that person is on probation that stay away condition applies. No matter what county or state a person moves to, the Court Order still applies. The defendant could be arrested for a probation violation and/ or be subject to new criminal charges under the proper conditions.

Entering a plea of guilty carries heavy responsibility. These conditions will apply for the entire term of the sentence unless a judge changes the terms.

Court Ordered Rehabilitation-Pretrial

Unknown.jpeg

More or more often, Courts order drug/alcohol rehabilitation as a condition of any bond set for known drug abusers. These defendants happily agree. After spending months in rehabilitation, the defendant returns to Court to discover any negotiated resolution of their case requires time in prison.

“What? I’m a new person. I’ve changed.” And yet, the State seeks to punish a defendant for their past behavior.

Yes, unfortunately this is how process works right now. Courts are embracing the idea of helping individuals with their addiction but prosecutors and judges still seek to punish the behavior with prison sentences.

Can I get credit for the time I spent in rehabilitation towards my prison sentence?

Using mitigation techniques, though, a defense attorney may use a defendant’s life history, change in circumstances based on rehabilitation, and improved record  of behavior to persuade a prosecutor and/or judge to give that defendant a second chance, or in many cases a third or fourth chance.

If the prosecutor and/or the judge is willing to reduce the serve time offer based on a defendant’s successful completion of the program, then yes, a defendant can receive credit.

No credit from the Georgia Department of Corrections, that administrative agency makes the determination of how much credit a person receives on the sentence imposed. Usually, that decision only includes credit for time spent in an actual jail before bond is posted. The posting of bond is the critical point.

The Board of Pardons and Paroles may use rehabilitation as factor in the parole determination.

Simply because a Court ordered a defendant into rehabilitation as a condition of bond does not create a circumstance where credit towards any sentence  will be given.

© 2016 Nancee Tomlinson

Legal Definitions: Hearsay

One of the great challenges of representing clients revolves around language and word usage. Many times the legal definition and common understanding of a word differ.

Hearsay falls into that category. Recently, while working to resolve a case for a client whose codefendant just entered a guilty plea and agreed to implicate the client, a family member said, “that’s just hearsay.” We discussed what the family member thought was hearsay, so that I could be understand the concern. Under the common understanding-not the legal definition-if a codefendant, or eyewitness for that matter, testifies about having observed an event, there is a false belief that this testimony is hearsay and that this testimony is worthless.

images

To unravel this misapprehension, we must talk about direct evidence and hearsay. First, an eyewitness, regardless of recent psychological publications, is classified as direct evidence that a crime was committed. A witness, who is a codefendant or a just an observer, may testify to what that witness observed. In my client’s case, the codefendant agreed to testify about actions my client took at the time of the crime: that the client was driving a motor vehicle involved in a crime. Like it or not, this evidence is admissible and cannot be challenged as hearsay.

Second, hearsay, in the situation of this particular client, would be a witness who testifies that she “heard” that the client was driving the car in question. With no direct observation, that witness’s testimony falls into the category of gossip and would not be admitted. The legal definition of hearsay varies from state to state but generally hearsay is an out of court statement offered by a witness to establish the truth of the matter asserted in the statement.

Be sure that when decisions are made in your case, that you make them based on the actual rules of evidence after discussion with counsel. Do not make decisions based on what you may have heard from someone who is not a lawyer.

© 2016 Nancee Tomlinson