Probation is a type of alternative sentencing for criminal convictions in which you agree to abide by certain terms and conditions in exchange for not going to jail (or for getting a reduced jail sentence). Probation may be supervised by a probation officer or may be unsupervised – which means reporting directly to the court.
Three key things to know about Colorado probation laws are:
- Most first-time offenders are eligible for alternative sentencing, particularly if the case is for a non-violent offense. In some cases, courts may agree to terminate probation early.
- If the judge grants a deferred judgment, your charge may be reduced or dismissed completely once the case ends.
- If you violate a term of probation, the judge can remand you to jail or prison to serve out the remainder of your sentence.
Below our Denver Colorado criminal defense lawyers discuss:
- 1. What is probation in Colorado?
- 2. Who is eligible?
- 3. Can I get probation for my DUI?
- 4. What is the difference between supervised and unsupervised probation?
- 5. How long does it last?
- 6. Can I get off probation early?
- 7. What happens if I violate the terms?
- 8. What happens when I complete the terms?
- 9. How do I find my probationary status?
- 10. Does Colorado accept transfers?
- 11. How much does being a probationer cost?
- 12. Are probation criminal records public?
- 13. Do POs come to my home?
- 14. Can POs search my house?
- 15. Can POs track my cell phone?
- 16. Can you look up someone’s PO?
- 17. How is it different from parole?
Probation is an alternative to incarceration in criminal cases. (However, certain charges require some jail time.)
Conditions of probation depend on the specific charge and vary from case to case. Common conditions include some or all of the following:
- Reporting regularly and as scheduled to the assigned probation officer (PO) from the Colorado Probation Department;
- No further criminal activity;
- Suspended sentence;
- Submitting to searches by law enforcement
- Avoiding alcohol and drugs;
- Random drug testing;
- Counseling (such as for substance abuse, mental health, or anger management);
- No ownership or possession of firearms;
- Payment of victim restitution;
- Payment of supervision costs and any court-ordered fines;
- House arrest / home confinement;
- Electronic monitoring;
- Community service;
- Paying for supervision fees; and/or
- Compliance with a protective order (such as in cases involving domestic violence).
Counties offer various probation programs depending on the criminal charges. Examples include:
- Drug Court if you are facing charges of drug possession (CRS 18-18-403.5);
- Domestic Violence Supervision if you are facing DV-related offenses; or
- Economic Crime Supervision if you are facing charges of petty theft (CRS 18-4-401(2)(b))1
See our related article, Denver Probation – Top 5 Questions Answered.
Generally, you are eligible for probationary sentences unless either:
- The criminal offense conviction is for a class 1 felony or a civil infraction; or
- You have two or more prior felony convictions arising out of separate episodes.
You typically ask for a probation sentence during the sentencing hearing. Otherwise, you can ask for alternative sentencing after serving part of your
- jail or
- prison sentence.2
Judges commonly grant probationary sentences in DUI cases. There should be no jail if:
Otherwise, some jail will be mandatory:
Colorado drunk/drugged driving charge
Minimum jail with a probationary sentence
|First-time DUI or DWAI with a BAC of less than 0.20%||None|
|First-time DWAI with a BAC of 0.20% or more||2 days|
|First-time DUI with a BAC of 0.20% or more||5 days|
|Second-time DUI||10 days|
|Third-time DUI||60 days|
|Fourth-time DUI||90 days3|
With supervised alternative sentencing, you report directly to your PO. With unsupervised alternative sentencing, you instead report straight to the court.
Therefore, unsupervised probation is more convenient. You usually have to pay less fees as well.
Judges usually grant unsupervised probationary sentences when you are convicted of the most minor offenses.4
It varies by case. It is typically 3 months to 2 years, but it can be shorter or longer.5
If you have been compliant, you may be eligible for early release.6 Learn more about applying for early termination of probation in Colorado.
If you violate your probation terms, you may be arrested on a “no bond” warrant. Then you could be sent or returned to custody to serve out your original sentence.
The court will hold a revocation hearing. There, you may argue against having your alternative sentencing revoked. The district attorney may argue to remand you to jail.
If the probation violation was minimal, the judge may consider giving you a second chance and reinstating the probationary terms.7
Upon successful completion of every condition of probation, you get released from the supervision of the Colorado judicial system.
If you were granted a deferred sentence, the charges may then be dismissed or reduced.8
Depending on the county, it may be available on the court website. Otherwise, you can call the local probationary department for the latest information.9
Look up Colorado courts by county.
Usually yes. Colorado participates in the Interstate Compact for Adult Offender Supervision. As part of this agreement, different states accommodate each other’s probationers.10 Learn more about transferring probationary sentences to or from Colorado.
Supervised alternative sentencing requires a $50 monthly fee. This is separate from any other fines, fees, and restitution the court may have ordered.11
Yes, unless you are a juvenile (under 18). You can contact the local probationary department or else look up the case on the court website.12
Look up Colorado courts by county.
In some cases, yes. Sometimes these visits are scheduled. Other times POs show up without prior notice. Depending on the case, POs may conduct an alcohol or drug test on you.
In cases without home visits, you may be required to check in with the PO at the probationary department or by phone.13
It varies by case, so you should discuss this with your attorneys. Typically, POs need “reasonable suspicion” that there may be contraband in the home in order to search it without a warrant. Contraband includes firearms or drugs.14–2
Usually not unless the PO has a valid warrant or court order.15
Yes, you can call the local probationary department to get a PO’s name. The only exception is for juvenile defendants (under 18) — that information remains confidential.16
Parole and probationary sentences are both types of supervised release. They both have similar terms, and if you violate them, you face incarceration.
Judges usually grant terms of probationary sentences instead of jail. (Though in some cases, jail is still required.) If you have a misdemeanor case, you may get misdemeanor probation. If you have a felony case, you may get felony probation.
In contrast, parole follows a prison sentence, and parole is available only in felony cases. If you are an inmate, you may get released early on parole.
Colorado Legal Defense Group
4047 Tejon Street
Denver, CO 80211
In Nevada? Learn about probationary revocation in Nevada.
- CRS 18-1.3-201.
- CRS 42-4-1307.
- See CRS 18-1.3-208.
- CRS 18-1.3-202.
- CRS 18-1.3-204.
- See note 5.
- See same.
- Colorado’s probationary departments by county, Colorado Judicial Branch.
- Interstate Commission for Adult Offender Supervision, About.
- Probation FAQs, Colorado Judicial Branch.
- Internet Criminal History Check, Colorado Bureau of Investigation.
- See note 11.
- U.S. v. Knights (2001) 534 U.S. 112.
- See, for example, People v. Bryant (Court of Appeal, Second Dist., Div. One., 2017) 10 Cal. App. 5th 396.
- See note 12.
- Allman v. People (2019) 451 P.3d 826.