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When Can You Seek Probation Instead of Jail Time in Arizona?

Posted on June 15, 2023 in

Many criminal charges in Arizona come with stiff penalties, including time in county jail or prison. Probation is always a more favorable option for a defendant than incarceration. With this alternative to incarceration for a criminal conviction, you can return to your community and remain there as long as you adhere to the rules the court imposes for the probationary term. These rules depend on the type of criminal conviction and the defendant’s criminal history. Probation provides a means for law enforcement to monitor someone convicted of a crime without them remaining in the state’s prison system. It also restricts some of the convicted individual’s rights. Arizona law sometimes refers to probation as community supervision.

What Are the Three Types of Probation in Arizona?

Depending on the nature of the conviction and the defendant’s background, the judge may impose one of three types of probation in Arizona:

  • Unsupervised probation: This only applies to low-level misdemeanors. In unsupervised probation, the convicted individual must follow any rules and restrictions imposed on them but does not need to check in with a probation officer
  • Supervised probation: In unsupervised probation, the convicted individual must routinely meet with a probation officer and may have required counseling and community service hours
  • Intensive probation: With intensive probation, the convicted individual may be allowed only to leave home for work, school, and medical appointments. In this strictly structured type of probation, convicted individuals often have to meet victim restitution requirements and face close monitoring by a probation officer

While all types of probation are preferable to prison time, probation is not an available option for some types of crimes or for those with extensive criminal histories

When Can I Seek Probation Instead of Prison in Arizona?

Depending on the circumstances and the criminal history of the convicted individual in Arizona, your Arizona criminal attorney can seek probation for a conviction for many non-dangerous crimes, especially for first offenders; however, the following crimes are ineligible for probation:

  • Crimes committed against children
  • Dangerous criminal offenses
  • Felonies related to gang activity 
  • Crimes committed while the defendant was already on probation
  • Human trafficking or smuggling crimes
  • Thefts of over $100,000 or fraud resulting in over $100,000
  • Certain drug offenses such as manufacturing dangerous drugs including methamphetamine, selling drugs in a school zone, and manufacturing or sale of opioids

Common Probationary Terms

Before seeking probation for a criminal conviction in Arizona, it’s important to understand some of the most common probationary terms judges often set including:

  • Prohibiting the commission of other crimes while under probation
  • Restrictions on association with certain other individuals
  • Random drug testing
  • Regular check-ins with a probation officer
  • Curfews
  • Community service
  • Random searches by law enforcement
  • Victim restitution payments
  • Compliance with protective orders
  • License suspension in DUI convictions
  • Relinquishing firearms
  • Mandatory drug or alcohol counseling or meetings

In some cases, probation may include a term of house arrest with an ankle monitor. Probationary periods are at the discretion of the judge in a criminal case but largely depend on the type of criminal conviction. A criminal defense attorney in Phoenix can help you navigate your legal options relative to Arizona criminal charges.