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Probation in Maryland

Kush Arora: Somebody is placed on probation if they have been found guilty or plead guilty to a particular charge in front of the judge and the judge has decided not to impose the maximum penalty associated with the case. By placing an individual on probation, the judge has essentially said, “I’m going to not send you to jail for the entire period of time that is available to me in this particular case.” Provided you do not commit any further violations and you comply with all the terms of the judge’s probation, it is unlikely that you will ever see any of the jail time, which would be suspended in that particular case.

As an example, often times somebody who is charged with second degree assault, which is a misdemeanor offense, can face up to 10 years of jail time. But a first time offender of a second degree assault case, which is not very serious, will probably walk into court and get a plea offer where they would not be asked to spend any time in jail. A judge presiding over that case would say, “I won’t send you to jail today, what I will do is give you 10 years of jail time suspended and place you on a period of probation until you have completed certain conditions.” You have to not get into trouble for maybe a year, you might have to take an anger management class, or you might have to do some community service; whatever conditions the judge might outline. And if these conditions are complied with successfully, you never see those 10 years of jail time. But if you do not complete any of the conditions or perhaps you go out and get a new charge during the period of probation, the judge has an opportunity to reopen the case and impose the suspended amount of jail time.

What are the conditions of probation?

Kush Arora: There can be varying conditions of probation. A person might be asked to stay out of trouble, to abstain from using drugs, to abstain from drinking alcohol, to do community service, or to participate in a treatment program. The conditions of probation are generally anything that the judge wants to impose that might be related to the case, or they might be necessary for the preservation of the health and safety of the individual that is charged, for the community, or for any of the complainants who are victims in that particular case. Restitution is another common term of probation, as are restrictions on somebody’s movement, travel, or where they might be able to live. The terms of probation are infinite and there is almost always an opportunity for the judge to tailor the terms of probation to a case on an individual basis. Terms of probation can be almost anything that the judge feels is appropriate for the health, well-being, and safety of the defendant, the complainants, and the community.