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How Does a Judge Determine Probation Time?

Probation is a form of alternative sentencing in which a convict can be released into the community and avoid spending time behind bars. Probation often comes with certain restrictions, like the prohibition on traveling outside of the state for the first 60 days.

At the end of a sentencing hearing, a judge can decide if probation is appropriate for the defendant. Not every defendant will be eligible, with Tennessee law barring some offenders from being granted probation.

Attorney Andrew C. Beasley would like to provide an overview of which defendants are eligible for probation, factors a judge may take into consideration, and how probation time is determined.

Probation in Tennessee

Probation is the process of releasing a person who is guilty of committing a crime into the community, either supervised or unsupervised. In Tennessee, there are two main types of probation:

  1. Split confinement: A convict will spend some time in prison and serve the remainder of his or her sentence under probation
  2. Direct probation: A convict will be sentenced to probation, avoiding prison time entirely

Who is Eligible for Probation?

Tennessee Code §40-35-303 stipulates that defendants who serve less than ten years in prison may be eligible for probation. Even if your sentence is less than ten years, certain offenses may make you ineligible for probation, including:

  • Vehicular homicide
  • Aggravated kidnapping
  • Aggravated robbery
  • Aggravated sexual battery
  • Statutory rape by an authority figure
  • Aggravated child abuse
  • Drug Possession
  • Aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor

What Factors Does the Court Consider for Probation?

The court will consider the following factors in discerning if a defendant should be granted probation:

  • The nature and circumstances of the offense
  • The defendant’s ability to re-enter society
  • The risk of the defendant committing an offense during the probationary period
  • If granting probation would deter others from committing the same or similar crime
  • If probation would downplay the seriousness of the offense

Determining Probation Time

Sentencing for each criminal offense is governed by Tennessee state law. Each statute outlines the minimum and maximum amounts of time that a person can be incarcerated for a crime. If a judge is considering alternative sentencing, this amount of time cannot be less than the statute’s minimum term nor greater than the maximum term.

Can a Criminal Defense Attorney Negotiate Probation?

Although a criminal defense attorney will fight to have the charges against you dismissed, if that is not possible, your attorney will attempt to negotiate a plea bargain. The plea bargain is negotiated between a defense attorney and the prosecutor.

Your defense attorney will aim to get you a reduced sentence, which may be a combination of prison time and probation or direct probation if possible. Your attorney will advocate on your behalf to secure favorable probation terms.

Probation can include supervised or unsupervised release. The terms of the plea agreement will depend on the circumstances of your situation. Even if both sides come to an agreement, a judge must still sign off on it.

Speak with our Nashville, TN, Criminal Defense Attorney Today

A momentary lack of judgment can land you considerable time in prison. If you are facing criminal allegations, our Nashville, TN, criminal defense attorney can help defend your civil rights. Contact Andrew C. Beasley, PLLC, today online or by calling 615-620-5803 to schedule your free consultation.

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