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Why probation is far more punishing than it may seem

Before we even begin talking about the probationary system, consider this amazing fact: according to federal data, only about two-thirds of people who are placed on probation actually complete their probationary term.

It's a jarring statistic because many people would presume that probation is "easy" or that it somehow is a "light punishment" given what could have been levied against someone accused of a crime. To the contrary, probation is a very serious status that forces the individual to obey a bevy of rules and pay numerous fines and fees relating to their "easy" probationary term.

But sometimes, the fines and fees aren't even the worst part of probation. As the central story of our source article shows, often it is the terrible communication and obtuse decision-making of the courts that can ruin the life of a person on probation.

Essentially, probation is used as a way to keep people who are likely down on their luck in a bad place in perpetuity. The combination of legal penalties and financial costs associated with probation don't help the individual in their effort to turn their life around. They may lose their license, their job, or their housing as a result of the crime (and the related probation).

It is imperative for anyone who is accused of a crime to get a criminal defense attorney on their side as soon as possible. With that lawyer by your side, you can strive towards building your defense or minimizing the damage of the charge -- or the punishment associated with your charge.

Source: New York Times, "Probation May Sound Light, but Punishments Can Land Hard," Shaila Dewan, Aug. 2, 2015

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Darryl A. Goldberg
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