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Old 08-05-2010, 12:49 PM
aceplace57 aceplace57 is offline
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Probation - how long can the courts punish?

Normally if a person is convicted of a crime they serve a sentence and the matter is finished. Or they get probation. Break probation and you serve whatever sentence the judge originally imposed.

There is a finite period that the judicial system punishes a person for a specific crime.

The Lindsay Lohan case has me puzzled. Her DUI's (she had two within a short period) were in 2007. Had she been given a normal jail sentence the matter would have been settled back in 2007. She was sent to Rehab 3 times back then.
The quote below gives details.

This thing has dragged on for three years. She's appeared before the judge multiple times for not complying with probation. She was finally jailed last month. Now more rehab. There doesn't seem to be an end in sight.

Wasn't the jail term the final card the judge could play? Break probation - go to jail. Why does the judge still have control? When does the legal process end?

Please, let's avoid any drawn out discussions of a fallen celebrity.

My questions is focused on the limits of the court. Normally you get convicted, serve time and it's over. In this case the judge is playing the role of a parent. It must be costing a fortune to keep this case in the courts.

Is this normal for substance abuse cases? Do the cases just drag on and on as the people shuttle in/out of rehab programs and short jail terms?

I took Criminal Justice in college years ago. We didn't talk about anything like this.

Quote:
Lohan was involved in a traffic accident on May 26, 2007 when she lost control of her car and ran the vehicle up a curb. Beverly Hills police also found what they preliminarily identified as a "usable" amount of cocaine in her car. After receiving treatment for minor injuries, Lohan was arrested on a misdemeanor charge of driving under the influence of alcohol.[109] She subsequently entered the Promises Treatment Center rehabilitation facility, where she stayed for 45 days.[110][111] Upon her release to outpatient care, Lohan was voluntarily fitted with a SCRAM bracelet to monitor her sobriety.[112][113]

On July 24, three weeks before filming was scheduled to resume, Lohan was arrested for a second DUI and again returned to rehabilitation.

On July 24, less than two weeks after leaving Promises, Lohan refused a field sobriety test in Santa Monica and was taken to a police station where her blood alcohol level was found to be above the legal limit. While conducting a search, the police found a small amount of cocaine in her pocket.[112][113][116] Lohan was booked on a felony charge of possession of cocaine and misdemeanor charges of driving under the influence and driving with a suspended license.[116][117] In August 2007, Lohan entered Cirque Lodge Treatment Center in Sundance, Utah for a third stint at rehabilitation, staying until discharge on October 5, 2007.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lindsay_Lohan

Last edited by aceplace57; 08-05-2010 at 12:53 PM..
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  #2  
Old 08-05-2010, 01:09 PM
md2000 md2000 is online now
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IANAL - I'm guessing but...
In most places nowadays with "get tough on drunk driving" the second offence within a short time ( a few years) can usually bring MUCH stiffer penalties. Repeat penalties while already on probabtion probably earned her the maximum sentence, to be served (thanks to expensive lawyers) on more probation. SO odds are she's on probation for several years.

The USA, in contrast to say, Canada, tends to have much stiffer penalties for simple drug possession. Add that to 3 consecutive DUI's and I would be surprised if she got LESS than 3 years on probabtion.

IIRC, probabtion say " you are sentenced to X for this crime, but we will simply put you on probabtion for this crime." You behave yourself, you serve all X by simply following terms of probation and reporting to the probation officer regularly. You violate it, any or all of your sentence can become jail time. Just because you spent some of it in jail and got let out does not cancel the remaining probation. You are still on probation after they let you out...
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Old 08-05-2010, 01:33 PM
aceplace57 aceplace57 is offline
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I had the impression that breaking probation canceled it. Then you served jail time.

I'm not sure how it works. You may be right. I can't imagine why a judge would waste time keeping someone on probation and sending them to a short jail sentence. Seems simpler to revoke probation and make them serve as much time as possible.

Our class was taught by a Lecturer that was an assistant warden. We primarily dealt with major felonies in class. We heard some great prison stories too.

Last edited by aceplace57; 08-05-2010 at 01:36 PM..
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Old 08-05-2010, 01:47 PM
Don't Call Me Shirley Don't Call Me Shirley is offline
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Since LL had multiple offenses, it's possible that the probation terms were ordered to be consecutive to each other; IOW, one term would not start until the previous one was finished. That can add up real fast. The time between the arrest and the conviction does not count towards the probation time- that can add a lot of time to the final resolution. Also, once a probation violation is filed with the court, the probation term is "tolled." That basically means that the clock is not running on the probation time until the violation is resolved. Since they basically have to have a trial on the violation, this can drag out for a long time as well.

Judges frequently sentence a person to a small amount of jail time and then put them back on the original term of probation. In this case, the judge clearly wants LL to finish the rehab. If she were to revoke her probation then once LL reported to jail the judge would have no more control over her, but this way, she can give her a taste of jail and make it clear that if she doesn't do rehab this time she will be spending a lot more time there. It's a pretty standard tactic.

(This answer is based on Indiana law. LL'sMMV.)
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Old 08-05-2010, 01:50 PM
pravnik pravnik is offline
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Violating probation isn't exactly what cancels probation, probation revocation by the judge is. If you violate the terms of your probation, the judge has the option to revoke your probation entirely and send you away for some or all of your original sentence, or to modify your probation by giving you some jail time (a/k/a "jail therapy") and/or rehab and reinstating you, possibly extending your probation period as well (on preview, what Don't Call Me Shirley just said). It appears she's already had her probation extended at least once.

A bit of googling shows that her probated sentence is up to a year in custody. If she gets her probation revoked entirely she could be counting her time behind bars in months rather than days, and possibly someplace more serious than county jail. I'm not sure of the situation in Cali, but in most states felony sentences are generally served in prisons, subject to a few exceptions.
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Old 08-05-2010, 01:55 PM
aceplace57 aceplace57 is offline
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That's very interesting. I've wondered about this for a long time. There's been other probation cases in the news that seemed to drag on forever.

Now that I see how it works it makes sense. thanks!


btw LL got ninety days in jail. She only served 13 or 14 and was released. Does she get credit for 90 days that comes off the probation? Just curious.

Last edited by aceplace57; 08-05-2010 at 01:59 PM..
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  #7  
Old 08-05-2010, 02:03 PM
pravnik pravnik is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aceplace57 View Post
btw LL got ninety days in jail. She only served 13 or 14 and was released. Does she get credit for 90 days that comes off the probation? Just curious.
Probably depends on state law. Here the judge has the option to give you credit for time you were in jail awaiting trial or plea, but must give you credit for time you served as a condition of probation.
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Old 08-05-2010, 06:25 PM
Gary Robson Gary Robson is offline
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Was there a contempt-of-court charge?
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  #9  
Old 08-05-2010, 08:21 PM
aceplace57 aceplace57 is offline
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LL came pretty darn close to contempt. Especially a few months ago when she was at the Cannes film festival and missed a court date. She claimed her passport was missing.

The judge has shown extraordinary judicial patience dealing with LL. She's threatened a contempt charge several times, but I don't think LL got charged. Instead, LL got 90 days of jail and 90 days Rehab for parole violations.

Last edited by aceplace57; 08-05-2010 at 08:21 PM..
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  #10  
Old 08-06-2010, 11:27 AM
Alan Smithee Alan Smithee is offline
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Like Pravnik said, in Colorado, at least, the judge resentences you if you violate probation. (Well, sometimes, anyway. The probation officer is an officer of the court and has some disctression in whether to request a revocation and resentencing from the judge, or simply dealing with a minor violation himself or herself by imposing stricter conditions of probation, etc.) I work in a community corrections facility, which is considered half way between probation and prison in terms of severity. I've had clients who committed a minor crime years ago, but kept getting themselves resentenced and resentenced because they wouldn't comply with the judge's orders on probation.

Some states, including Colorado, also have specialized "drug courts," which engage in specialized supervision of drug offenders, requiring extensive periods of treatment and regular reporting to the court. I understand these judges have considerable leeway in the legnth and type of supervision the offenders receive.

I don't know much about how drug courts work, but my understanding is that participation in a drug court is voluntary in the part of the defendant. The defendant has to request at trial that they be placed in drug court rather than being sentenced in a regualr court. The same is often true of probation sentences. The defendant requests a probation sentence to avoid going to prison.

By requesting a drug court sentencing or asking to be placed on probation, the defendant basically agrees to to be supervised until such time as they successfully comply with the conditions of their sentence for a set legnth of time. If they keep refusing to comply, the judge will eventually make them serve time in prison, but the sentencing can drag on virtually indefinitely up to that point.

Courts encourage participation in these programs because they are significantly cheaper than sending someone to prison. Prisons are extremely expensive, and making someone serve time in prison pretty much costs the taxpayer more than anything else the judge can come up with (except the death penalty, but that simply adds death penalty costs to what usually turns out to be a very lengthy prison stay.)

On the other hand, prison sentences have a very strict timeframe beyond which the person cannot be punished (sex offenders apparently excepted - they can be kept restricted and even returned to prison for their entire lives). I've had more than one client say they wish they had gone to or stayed in prison instead of coming here because if they had, they'd be out already. (We get a mix of people who were on probation and were bad and people who were in prison and were good.) They never really mean it though.
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Old 08-07-2010, 10:15 PM
NOLA Cajun NOLA Cajun is offline
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If you're convicted felon in this country you are basically no longer considered a full citizen. Never allowed to own a gun (I can see the pseudo-logic, but I still believe it's wrong), in many places you are not allowed to vote (there are places you can vote as long as your sentence is completed, not on parole/probation).

So basically I'm only pointing out that your sentence is really never completed if you aren't granted the same rights as everyone else once you satisfy your sentence.
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Old 08-08-2010, 11:02 AM
nuggz nuggz is offline
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Probation can be coupled with jail time. I had an ex that went to jail for a few months, and then had FIVE years probation. When he violated probation, he got sent back to jail, and came out with FIVE more years of probation.

He often violated probation. He had a substance abuse problem, and terms of his probation prohibited him from using the substances he was addicted to. "Small" things, like him being in a bar, were violations.

The longest he went without violating was maybe two years. He got caught coming out of a bar, having drank a beer, and was in violation. He went to jail for a few months, came out with his probation reset to 5 years.

About a year ago, while still on probation, he got a DUI. Insted of showing up for his court date, going back to jail, getting 5 more years of probation, he fled the state.

It is incredibly difficult for most people NOT to violate probation. They already have lifestyles that are not helping them, they have habits that are not helping them, and so on and so forth.

They need rehabilitation, substance abuse therapy, education, etc... not endless time in jail and/or years of probation.

Someone needs to help them live "normal" lives, not throw them back into their bad environment with the expectation that they *know* how to change their behavior.

(note: I am not saying that people who violate the law are victims. We are all responsible for our own actions.)
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Old 08-08-2010, 07:22 PM
Don't Call Me Shirley Don't Call Me Shirley is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aceplace57 View Post
The judge has shown extraordinary judicial patience dealing with LL. She's threatened a contempt charge several times, but I don't think LL got charged. Instead, LL got 90 days of jail and 90 days Rehab for parole violations.
This is my impression as well. A defendant in my jurisdiction wouldn't be able to get away with one tenth of the shit she pulled. And I consider our judges to be pretty lenient. For one thing, someone in violation of probation, facing possibly several years in prison, with a court hearing coming up, would never be allowed to leave the country. Roman Polanski, anyone?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Alan Smithee View Post
Like Pravnik said, in Colorado, at least, the judge resentences you if you violate probation. (Well, sometimes, anyway. The probation officer is an officer of the court and has some disctression in whether to request a revocation and resentencing from the judge, or simply dealing with a minor violation himself or herself by imposing stricter conditions of probation, etc.)
This is true. I work for seven different judges and each one has his/her own style. Some give us more leeway than others when working with defendants. There used to be one judge who was absolutely no nonsense- if you went back to his court with a violation of probation you were doing all of your time, no questions asked, you could bank on it. But another judge might not send you away until you violated three or four times. So with the very strict judge, we would not file violations for minor things but would warn people that they were on thin ice and if they went in front of the judge it was the end. With the other judge we would file violations on everything. So it evened out, with people getting revoked for roughly the same amount of screwing up. The judges knew we were doing this and actually preferred it- the stricter judge didn't want to concern himself with minor stuff and didn't want to get involved until it was time to send someone to prison, whereas the more lenient judge was more hands-on and wanted to be more involved.


Quote:
I don't know much about how drug courts work, but my understanding is that participation in a drug court is voluntary in the part of the defendant. The defendant has to request at trial that they be placed in drug court rather than being sentenced in a regualr court. The same is often true of probation sentences. The defendant requests a probation sentence to avoid going to prison.

Courts encourage participation in these programs because they are significantly cheaper than sending someone to prison. Prisons are extremely expensive, and making someone serve time in prison pretty much costs the taxpayer more than anything else the judge can come up with (except the death penalty, but that simply adds death penalty costs to what usually turns out to be a very lengthy prison stay.)
Actually, most drug courts try to get people involved immediately after their arrest, like within a few days or a week. The attorneys pick someone who fits the criteria and if the person is willing, they start immediately. Prior to their conviction they are kept in line by making the program a condition of their bond. And drug courts are actually rather expensive compared to regular probation. They expend an enormous amount of resources on a handful of people that are deemed to need them the most. A drug court probation officer usually has maybe 30 on their caseload, whereas a regular PO might have 200. They are a lot cheaper than jail or prison though.
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