Being let out of jail (or avoiding jail altogether) to go on probation is an odd balance between a relief and a burden. While probation does give you many freedoms that you do not have in jail, many feel that they are walking on eggshells trying to meet the terms of their probation to avoid re-arrest.
Why? Because while you do not have to stay in a jail cell all day, probation may limit the places you can go and how long you can leave the town where you live – and that’s just the beginning. As a part of your probation, your probation officer might have to be aware of your location at all times. Your whereabouts may be monitored by frequent check-ins, or even an ankle monitoring device.
This device may be able to do more than just monitor your controlled substance consumption or location, too. Some essentially act as law enforcement officers themselves: if you are involved in a crime, the ankle monitoring device can bust you – and get you sent back to jail. David Nathaniel Neal learned this the hard way.
Ankle Monitor IDs Drug Trafficking Suspect
Mr. Neal, of Lincoln County, has a lengthy arrest record including multiple convictions for possession of controlled substances and drug paraphernalia, driving while impaired, and simple assault. After over six months in jail, he was released in July 2016 and put on probation with an ankle monitoring device.
Neal was driving in a car with another man shortly before Christmas and was pulled over by police for a traffic stop. The two men tried to flee deputies, at which time police identified Neal by his ankle monitor. During the pursuit, he threw a duffle bag out of the car. The duffle bag contained different types of drugs (including methamphetamine and marijuana), drug paraphernalia, and a handgun.
Neal was arrested and charged on felony counts of trafficking methamphetamine and possession of a firearm by a felon, as well as misdemeanor counts of possession of a controlled substance and drug paraphernalia. He is currently in jail on a $50,000 bond.
Charges Are Intensified While You Are On Your Probation
When Neal arrives in court for his hearing, or possibly his sentencing trial, those involved will definitely take his probationary status into account.
A class 1 or class 2 misdemeanor conviction, or felony conviction, is serious enough to revoke a probation. (Class 3 misdemeanors, like speeding, are not enough to revoke a probation.)
Neal’s multiple felony counts no doubt put him at risk for going back to jail, possibly for longer than the seven months that he previously served. Consequences for violating your probation will also depend on the time between the release from jail and the day when the crime was committed.
If you have been put on probation, it is important to speak with your probation officer and your criminal defense lawyer about the terms of your probation and the possible consequence for violating each term.
Avoid Probation by Avoiding Drug Possession Charges
If you are charged with drug possession, probation may be in your future, but it doesn’t have to be. The best way to avoid getting into a mess like the story from above is to avoid a possession conviction altogether.
If you are charged, there are ways to fight back and get the charges dropped before you have to even enter a courtroom. The way that is right for you will differ depending on your specific circumstances, but a knowledgeable North Carolina drug possession lawyer will be able to tell you your options and suggest the best path.
About the Author:
Jan Elliott Pritchett is Managing Partner at the Law Firm of Schlosser & Pritchett and one of North Carolina’s top rated criminal defense attorneys. With a practice dedicated 100% to litigation, Mr. Pritchett protects the legal rights of clients who have been charged in federal and state criminal matters, as well as DUI/DWi, motor vehicle accidents, personal injury, and traffic violations. In practice since 1995, Mr. Pritchett has earned a reputation as a highly talented and fearless lawyer, being listed among the state’s “Legal Elite” and recognized as one of the Top 100 DWI Lawyers in North Carolina by the National Advocacy of DUI Defense. He currently serves as the Co-Chairman of the North Carolina State Board of Legal Specialization, Criminal Law Specialty, and Vice-Chairman of the North Carolina Bar Association, Criminal Justice Section.