Restrictions for Criminals Placed on Probation In Michigan; Nighthawks Make Random Visits For Violators In Some Michigan Counties

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In Michigan, probation cannot exceed 2 years for misdemeanors and 5 years for felonies. Probation is determined at the time of sentencing and may include a component of incarceration. For example, our firm recently represented someone who was convicted of a felony, drunk driving third offense. The offender had 6 total drinking and driving convictions on his record and faced 1-5 years in prison. The Court was persuaded by the defendant’s employment and decision to begin a substance abuse treatment program. The defendant was sentenced to 2 years probation with the first 30 days in jail the Macomb County Jail; the minimum period of incarceration allowed by Michigan statute for felony drunk driving.

The least restrictive type of probation is called non-reporting or unsupervised. This means that the Defendant must be on good behavior during a period of probation and will be discharged at the end of probation provided the person does not violate any criminal laws. In addition, the Court may attach some conditions with non-reporting probation such as not leaving the State of Michigan without approval and attending an appropriate program (AA meetings or anger management).

Probation may also be supervised or reporting. The Court has broad power to place limitations and restrictions on otherwise legal behavior for a person who gets probation. For example, someone placed on probation may be prohibited from entering into a strip club or from using a computer. The image which is attached to this page is a copy of the probation conditions which are possible in Macomb County. Failure to abide by any of these provisions can result in termination of probation and incarceration.

Some counties, including Oakland and Ingham, employ a program known as Operation Nighthawk to monitor the behavior of those who are placed on probation. Operation Nighthawk is a program whereby probation officers along with law enforcement officers randomly visit probationers, usually after hours, to verify compliance. In an article which appears in the Ingham County Legal News, 55th District Court Judge says, “Unannounced sweeps by our probation office with local law enforcement officers are the backbone of Operation Nighthawk. NIGHTHAWK encourages probationers to follow their probation orders.”

Legal representation is essential at a probation violation hearing to insure that a person’s rights are protected. Often, an attorney can offset a violation by taking preemptive measures. There may also be circumstances which can be explained which can result in a dismissal of the probation violation. On the other hand, a person who has had exemplary conduct while on probation can retain an attorney to file a motion for early discharge from probation. Our firm will usually recommend that a person hold off on filing a motion for early discharge until he has been on probation for 50% of the period imposed. THE ABDO LAW FIRM has also filed motions to have certain conditions of probation excused. In this regard, we may ask the Court to amend reporting probation to non-reporting where the probationer has been compliant and no longer needs supervision. Contact the ABDO LAW FIRM at 586-412-5555.