Probation is a period of supervision in the community for those convicted of misdemeanors and felonies except murder, treason, armed robbery, criminal sexual conduct in the first or third degree, certain controlled substance offenses, or felonies in which a firearm was used. It is an alternative to prison but is sometimes coupled with a short jail sentence.
Probation is the most often selected sentence. Agents who are employed by the Michigan Department of Corrections supervise adult felony probationers in Michigan but the courts retain legal control over the offender’s status.
In general, the statutory maximum term of probation is five years for felonies and two years for misdemeanors. Lifetime probation is authorized for some drug offenses. However, within the statutory maximum, the length of probation is determined by the judge at sentencing.
While it is the primary responsibility of MDOC probation agents to monitor offender behavior during supervision to ensure compliance with the probation order, it is the judge who sets the offender’s conditions or requirements of probation.
Beyond statutory probation conditions requiring the offender to avoid criminal behavior, not leave the state without permission and report as specified by the agent, the court is free to impose special conditions of probation based on the offender’s criminal and personal history.
Special conditions may require jail confinement, substance abuse treatment, community service, high school completion, restitution, fines, court costs and supervision fees, electronically monitored home confinement, placement in a state-funded probation residential center, and/or finding and keeping employment.
Agents are expected to assist the offender become a productive member of the community by assessing the risk and needs of the offender and ensuring that treatment and programming are available that will reduce risk and address the needs of the offender.
Agents team with families, employers, treatment providers and the faith-based community to assist probationers, accept responsibility and change. Department policy also requires the supervising agent to respond to each offender violation of the court’s order.
Since the gravity of violations and the individual offender risk to public safety vary, policy requires agents to fashion violation responses that take into account the seriousness of the violation and the offender’s general risk to the public, as well as the offender’s adjustment to supervision. In all cases agents are required to recommend to the court and impose the least restrictive response that is consistent with public safety.
Violation of probation can result in a resentencing to prison.