Probation is a type of alternative sentencing in Colorado. Probationers agree to complete various terms in exchange for not going to jail or serving a reduced jail sentence.
Most criminal defendants are eligible for alternative sentencing. In some cases, courts may agree to terminate probation early. And if the judge grants a deferred judgment, the defendant's charge may be reduced or dismissed completely once the case ends.
Below our Denver 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 probation status?
- 10. Does Colorado accept transfers?
- 11. How much does probation cost?
- 12. Are probation 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. (However, certain charges require some jail time.)
Probationary conditions depend on the specific charge and vary 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;
- Avoiding alcohol and drugs;
- Random drug testing;
- Counseling (such as for substance abuse 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; and/or
- Compliance with a protective order (such as in cases involving domestic violence).
Counties offer various probationary programs depending on the criminal charges. Examples include:
- Drug Court for people facing charges of drug possession (18-18-403.5 C.R.S.);
- Domestic Violence Supervision for people facing DV-related offenses; or
- Economic Crime Supervision for people facing charges of petty theft (18-4-401(2)(b) C.R.S.)1
Generally, defendants are eligible for probation unless either:
- The conviction is for a class 1 felony or a class 2 petty offense; or
- The defendant has two or more prior felony convictions arising out of separate episodes
Defendants typically ask for probation during the sentencing hearing. Otherwise, they can ask for alternative sentencing after serving part of their jail or prison sentence.
Judges commonly grant probation in DUI cases. There should be no jail if:
- The case is a DUI-first or DWAI-first; and
- The defendant's blood alcohol content (BAC) was below 0.20%
Otherwise, some jail will be mandatory:
Colorado drunk/drugged driving charge
Minimum jail with probation
First-time DUI or DWAI with a BAC of less than 0.20%
First-time DWAI with a BAC of 0.20% or more
First-time DUI with a BAC of 0.20% or more
With supervised alternative sentencing, probationers report directly to their PO. With unsupervised alternative sentencing, probationers instead report straight to the court.
Therefore, unsupervised probation is more convenient. And defendants usually have to pay less fees as well.
Judges usually grant unsupervised probation to defendants convicted of the most minor offenses.
It varies by case. It is typically 3 months to 2 years. But it can be shorter or longer.
Probationers who have been compliant may be eligible for early release. Learn more about applying for early termination of probation in Colorado.
Probationers who violate their terms may be arrested on a "no bond" warrant. Then they could be sent or returned to custody to serve out their original sentence.
The court will hold a revocation hearing. There, defendants may argue against having their alternative sentencing revoked. If the violation was minimal, the judge may consider giving the defendant a second chance and reinstating probation.
Upon successful completion of all terms, the probationer is released from the supervision of the Colorado judicial system.
If the probationer was granted a deferred sentence, the charges may then be dismissed or reduced.
Depending on the county, it may be available on the court website. Otherwise, people can call the local probation department for the latest information.
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. Learn more about transferring probation 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.
Yes, unless the defendant is a juvenile (under 18). People can contact the local probation department or else look up the case on the court website.
Look up Colorado courts by county.
In some cases, yes. Sometimes these visits are scheduled. Other times POs show up without prior notice. And depending on the case, POs may conduct an alcohol or drug test on the probationer.
In cases without home visits, the probationer may be required to check in with the PO at the probation department or by phone.
It varies by case, so defendants should discuss this with their attorneys. Typically, POs need "reasonable suspicion" that there may be contraband in the home in order to search it without a warrant.2 Contraband includes firearms or drugs.
Not unless the PO has a valid warrant or court order.
Yes, people can call the local probation department to get a PO's name. The only exception is for juvenile defendants (under 18) -- that information remains confidential.
Parole and probation are both types of supervised release. They both have similar terms. And people who violate their terms face incarceration.
Judges usually grant probation instead of jail. (Though in some cases, jail is still required.) Defendants in misdemeanor cases may get misdemeanor probation. And those in felony cases may get felony probation. In 2019, the Colorado Supreme Court held that courts may never sentence a defendant to both prison and probation for the same case.3
In contrast, parole follows a prison sentence. Some inmates get released early on parole. And only people sentenced to felonies may be eligible for parole.
Call us for help…
To schedule a free consultation with one of our experienced Colorado defense attorneys, simply fill out the confidential form on this page. Or call us at our centrally located Denver home office:
Colorado Legal Defense Group
4047 Tejon Street
Denver, CO 80211
In Nevada? Learn about probation revocation in Nevada.