In Colorado criminal cases, unsupervised probation is where you report directly to the court rather than being supervised by a probation officer. This is a more relaxed form of probation reserved for low-level misdemeanor cases and for first-time offenders.
The conditions of unsupervised probation typically include:
- Community service,
- Not committing another crime,
- Paying restitution to victims, and
- Drug or alcohol classes and treatment.
Unsupervised probation is often less expensive than supervised probation because there are fewer fees to pay. It is also less inconvenient.
In this article, our Colorado criminal defense lawyers will address:
- 1. What is probation?
- 2. What is unsupervised probation in Colorado?
- 3. What are the benefits of unsupervised probation?
- 4. What do I still have to do under unsupervised probation?
- 5. What are the penalties for violating unsupervised probation?
- 6. What happens if you fail a UA on probation in Colorado?
- 7. Can you leave the state on probation in Colorado?
- 8. Can you get off probation early in Colorado?
1. What is probation?
Probation is often a part of the sentence for a criminal conviction. It is a list of things that you have to do, instead of going to jail. Probation is frequently a part of a plea bargain. It is a possibility for people convicted of anything other than a:
If you break the terms of your probation, you can face serious consequences. You could go back to jail. You could also have your probation revoked and replaced with new, stricter terms.
There are “general” terms of probation that everyone has to follow, such as staying out of trouble. Then there are “specific” terms that are tailored to your specific case.
Some of the most common conditions of probation include:
- Completing domestic violence classes or DUI School,
- Attending counseling,
- Undergoing alcohol or drug treatment,
- Paying restitution to victims of the crime,
- Paying court costs,
- Covering the supervision fee for probation,
- Staying sober and abstaining from drugs (unless you have a current and valid prescription),
- Remaining employed,
- Relinquishing your firearms and other weapons, such as knives,
- Performing community service,
- Attending victim impact panels,
- Regularly checking in with a probation officer,
- Allowing probation officers to come to your home or place of work,
- Consenting to warrantless searches of your home, car, or person,
- Submitting to drug tests (breath tests and urine analysis),
- Having no contact with the victim,
- Avoiding certain locations (such as playgrounds if your charge was for a child sex crime),
- Avoiding contact with felons,
- Continually updating personal information, including your address and employment information,
- Compiling certificates of completion and other written proof of completing your probation terms for you to show to the court, and
- Not leaving the state of Colorado without prior written approval.1
2. What is unsupervised probation in Colorado?
With unsupervised probation, you do not report to a probation officer. Instead, you report your progress directly to the D.A. or court clerk.
Unsupervised probation – which usually lasts six months to a year – is relatively rare. Most of the time, probation is supervised. Courts tend to only issue unsupervised probation if:
- You do not have any prior criminal convictions and are considered low-risk,
- You were convicted for a low-level misdemeanor, and
- You have already completed most or all of the terms of your probation while under supervision.
Supervised probation is typically imposed in serious cases involving
Though with a shortage of staff to monitor probationers, more localities are turning to unsupervised probation or allowing probationers to self-report through a “mail-in” program. Plus, supervised probation does not necessarily do more than unsupervised probation in terms of reducing recidivism.
Most unsupervised probations come after a period of supervised probation. Courts let you complete most of the requirements of your probation under supervision. Then they shift you into unsupervised probation because there is little else to monitor.2
3. What are the benefits of unsupervised probation?
In unsupervised probation, you do not have to deal with a probation officer. Instead, you can report directly to the court. The benefits of this setup include:
- Not having to pay supervision fees, which can cost $50 per month,
- No longer having to meet with your probation officer every month, and
- Fewer sobriety checks or drug tests.
When probation is unsupervised, it drastically reduces the costs and hassle.3
Whether you are on supervised or unsupervised probation, remember that any hint of misconduct could land you back in court. It is best to avoid all risky situations for as long as you are on probation.
4. What do I still have to do under unsupervised probation?
Just because probation is unsupervised does not mean it is over, though. You still need to comply with all of the rules (called terms and conditions of probation). These include:
- Returning to court for regular progress reports
- Not committing a new crime,
- Paying any fines or court-ordered restitution, and
- Not leaving Colorado without prior approval.
You also have to update the court as to your status. Under supervised probation, this is the job of the probation officer. When probation is unsupervised, you have to do it. If you complete a requirement of your probation, you will have to bring proof of completion to the court.
The exact terms of your probation are often unique to your case. Before being put on unsupervised probation, it is important to clearly understand what you still have to do. You should ask your lawyer, probation officer, or court official.4
5. What are the penalties for violating unsupervised probation?
If you violate any of the terms of unsupervised probation, the court can:
- Issue an arrest warrant,
- Force you to post bail to be released,
- Revoke your probation,
- Change the terms of your probation to make them more stringent,
- Turn unsupervised probation into supervised probation, or
- Send you to jail.
If you are accused of violating your probation, the court will schedule a probation revocation hearing. At this hearing, the judge will decide if you broke the terms of your probation. Prosecutors only have to prove their case by a preponderance of the evidence.
The penalties for violating probation are especially serious if your probation was part of a deferred sentence. In these cases, the original sentence can be imposed. This can include fines and jail time.5
Note that if you were on probation as part of a diversion program where you never entered a plea – and then you violate the terms of probation – you can be taken out of the diversion program and be prosecuted for the underlying offense as if the diversion never happened.
6. What happens if you fail a UA on probation in Colorado?
Violating any term of your probation – including failing a urine analysis – puts you at risk of having your probation revoked. Though it may be possible to show at your probation revocation hearing that:
- the urine sample was contaminated;
- someone spiked your drinks/food with drugs; or
- the lab techs conducting the test made a mistake.
In some cases, a judge may give you a second chance to stay on probation as long as you have otherwise been compliant.
7. Can you leave the state on probation in Colorado?
You usually have to get prior approval from the court or your probation officer before you can leave the state, but it depends on the terms of your plea agreement.
8. Can you get off probation early in Colorado?
You can request to get off of probation early by filing a court motion showing “good cause.”6 Learn more in our article, How to apply for early termination of probation.
Call us for help…
Unsupervised probation is often the last part of the sentence for a criminal conviction. You should take extra care to not break the terms of your probation at this stage. Our criminal defense lawyers can help see you through to the end. Contact us online with any questions about the process or if you need legal help.