Probation is one of the ways that a defendant can be punished after a conviction for a criminal offense. In Arizona, probation can be supervised, unsupervised, or intensive. The terms are often different for felony probation versus misdemeanor probation. Violating the terms of probation can lead to a hearing that imposes further penalties or revokes probation.
1. What is probation in Arizona?
Probation is one way for a criminal defendant to be punished for a crime. It is often imposed instead of prison time during the sentencing hearing or as part of a plea deal. Often referred to as “community supervision,” probation is a way for the criminal justice system to monitor someone who has been convicted of a crime without making them stay in prison.
Rather than staying in prison, defendants are released back into the community. There, they have to abide by the rules imposed on them by the court. These rules can be very strict. The specific terms of probation will depend on the criminal offense and the defendant’s criminal background.
In Arizona, there are 3 types of probation:
- supervised, and
Unsupervised probation is rarely imposed. It means that the probationer has to follow the rules of their release, but does not have to routinely check in with a probation officer. It is mainly for minor criminal offenses that carry little jail time, like low-level misdemeanors or petty offenses.
Supervised probation is the most common type of probation. Probationers have to follow the court’s rules for their release. One of them is to regularly meet with a probation officer. There may be other forms of supervision, as well, like community service requirements or counseling sessions.
Intensive probation is the strictest type of community supervision in Arizona. This form of probation focuses on paying restitution to the victims of the crime. Probationers are not allowed to do much aside from work and go to school. They also have to perform community restitution and frequently report to their probation officer.1
There are also different kinds of probation that depend on the defendant or the offense:
- adult probation,
- juvenile probation, and
- drug court, for certain drug offenses.
2. What crimes are eligible for probation?
Not all crimes are eligible for probation. For example, some of the criminal charges that are not eligible are:
- dangerous offenses,2
- most dangerous crimes against children,3
- any felony offense that was committed while the defendant was on probation,4
- any felony offense committed to promote, further, or assist a criminal street gang,5
- any felony offense committed to promote, further, or assist human smuggling,6
- certain forms of theft involving more than $100,000,7
- using fraud to procure over $100,000 or the manufacture, sale, or marketing of opioids,8
- possession of more than the threshold amount of drugs, signaling an intent to sell,9
- many drug offenses involving methamphetamine,10
- manufacturing any dangerous drug,11
- selling drugs in a school zone,12 and
- offenses committed by a defendant with a prior felony conviction.13
Other offenses may be ineligible for probation as well, depending on the circumstances of the crime and the defendant. However, most non-dangerous offenses committed by a first-time offender are eligible for probation.
Talking to a criminal defense attorney is the best way to determine if a particular offense is eligible for probation. Only by establishing an attorney-client relationship with a defense lawyer at a law firm can a defendant know for sure if their criminal case carries mandatory prison time or not.
3. What are some common terms?
Judges have lots of discretion in setting the terms of probation. They often use this discretion to create conditions that cater to the type of offense and the particular defendant. However, some common terms of probation include:
- a prohibition against committing another criminal offense during the probationary period,
- restrictions on who the probationer can associate with,
- regular check-ins with an officer from the probation department,
- giving up alcohol or drugs,
- random drug tests,
- paying victim restitution,
- performing community service,
- consenting to random searches by law enforcement,
- complying with a protective order, if the offense was for domestic violence,
- a driver’s license suspension, if the offense was for driving under the influence (DUI),
- house arrest or home confinement,
- electronic monitoring, often with an ankle bracelet,
- relinquishing firearms,
- drug or alcohol treatment, or
Some counties in Arizona have designated drug courts for defendants who do not have a criminal background, who have committed a non-violent drug offense, and who have substance abuse problems.14
4. How long does an Arizona probation last?
The length of the probationary period is at the discretion of the judge. However, the probation period usually depends on the type of offense that was committed15:
|Type of offense||Length of probation|
|Class 2 felony||7 years|
|Class 3 felony||5 years|
|Class 4 felony||4 years|
|Class 5 felony||3 years|
|Class 6 felony||3 years|
|Class 1 misdemeanor||3 years|
|Class 2 misdemeanor||2 years|
|Class 3 misdemeanor||1 year|
Certain offenses have their own presumptive probationary period:
- DUI and DUI with a blood alcohol content (BAC) at or above 0.15%: 5 years, and
- aggravated DUI: 10 years.16
Some offenses can carry lifetime probation, in the judge’s discretion:
- sexual exploitation of children,
- child sex trafficking,
- sex offenses,
- failure to register as a sex offender,
- unlawful use of an infectious substance,
- stalking, or
- child abuse.17
If the probation included the requirement that the probationer pay restitution to the victim, and the full amount has not been paid by the end of the probationary period, then the judge can extend the period:
- up to 5 years, for a felony, or
- up to 2 years, for a misdemeanor.18
5. Can it be terminated early?
Probation can be terminated before the entire period has elapsed. The court can do this on its own, or the probationer can file a Petition for Early Termination.19
Generally, in order to get probation terminated before its full term, probationers:
- must have served at least half of their probation period,
- must have paid all of their fines and court fees,
- did not violate any of the terms or conditions of probation,
- paid restitution in full,
- completed any required treatment programs, counseling, or classes, and
- refrained from drugs or alcohol since being put on probation.
6. What happens after a probation violation?
Violating any of the terms of probation has serious consequences. The probationer can be sent to jail, or additional terms will be added to their probation to make it even stricter.
If the probation officer learns of a possible violation, he or she will file a Petition to Revoke Probation. A court date will be scheduled for a probation violation hearing.
At this hearing, if the judge decides that probation was, in fact, violated, then the judge can revoke probation. The probationer will be sent to prison to serve the rest of their original sentence, there. Rather than revocation, the judge can also choose to alter the terms of your probation and release you on stricter terms.
- ARS 13-913 and 13-914.
- ARS 13-704(G).
- ARS 13-705.
- ARS 13-917(B).
- ARS 13-714.
- ARS 13-715.
- ARS 13-1802(H).
- ARS 13-2310(C).
- ARS 13-3407.
- ARS 13-3407(F).
- ARS 13-3411(B).
- ARS 13-703(O).
- ARS 13-3422(A) and (L).
- ARS 13-902.
- ARS 13-902(B).
- ARS 13-902(E) and (F).
- ARS 13-902(C).
- ARS 13-901(E).