65th District Court Probation Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Please review these frequently asked questions (FAQ) before making a phone call to the court. Reviewing these facts will save you time and provide you with a more timely answer. There are hyperlinks (quick connect to another document with more detail) in this document. Clicking on the link will take you to more information on the selected topic. The documents are in Adobe Acrobat PDF format. If you do not have the Adobe Reader installed you may do so by clicking this link.                                                               

 

65B District Court Probation FAQ

 

  1. Can my probation be transferred to another county?

The county that you wish to be transferred to must accept supervision of your case.  Most counties also charge an oversight fee to supervise your case as well.  However, with today’s technology it is possible to keep your probation in Gratiot County without having to physically report to the probation office as all conditions of probation may be completed in your home area, with verification faxed to this probation department.

  1. My probation is almost over.  What do I need to do?

Unless your probation officer tells you differently, you will be mailed a copy of your discharge paperwork without having to report to the probation department.  You should not have to appear in front of the Judge, and you do not have to sign any paperwork.

  1. The Judge had me meet with a probation officer before he sentenced me.  Does this mean that I will be placed on probation?

The Judge often has a defendant meet with a probation officer for a presentence investigation (often called a PSI).  The PSI is a tool used by the court to gather information and make recommendations to the Judge for sentencing.  Meeting with the probation officer does not mean that you will automatically be placed on probation.

  1. My spouse was ordered to have no contact with me while he/she is on probation.  How can I get that changed so that we may have contact with each other?

You must contact his or her probation officer, and arrange a date to go before the Judge to make the request.  The Judge must make the decision to lift the no contact order. (click here for the link to our policy)

  1. I was ordered to complete counseling for substance abuse.  How many times do I have to go to counseling?

You must complete an assessment at an agency within the time period directed by your PO.  After the assessment, you will meet with a therapist to discuss the results, and you and the therapist will develop a treatment plan.  You will follow the directives of the therapist for treatment.  This means that if the therapist says you need to attend a group once per week, you are to attend a group once per week.  If the therapist says that you are to complete individual counseling each week, you are to complete individual counseling each week.  Once you and the therapist feel you have reached the goals of the treatment plan, you will be successfully discharged from counseling.  You must also ensure that your probation officer receives monthly reports from your therapist verifying that you are attending and complying with your counseling.  Failure to complete counseling in a timely manner or failing to follow the directives of the PO or the therapist may result in a probation violation.

  1. I have a probation violation hearing scheduled.  Does this mean that I am going to jail?

Not necessarily.  Often a probation violation results in more treatment options or other sanctions, or just a short term jail sentence.  A probation violation hearing does not always mean that you will serve the full jail sentence. (link to advice of rights) Note: you may download this form, fill it in and bring it with you. 

  1. Why do I have to keep coming in for drug tests when I have been testing negative for over a year?

One of the conditions of your probation is that you are not to use alcohol or drugs.  Testing is the only way we can make sure that you are not using these substances while on probation.

  1. I keep calling my probation officer, but she is not answering her phone.  How can I get in touch with her?

We are kept very busy here, but we make every attempt to return phone messages on the day they are left.  If you reach voicemail, leave a message, and your call will be returned.  You may also use email to reach your probation officer.  Jackie MacDonald jmacdonald@gratiotmi.com or Daisy Beckett at dbeckett@gratiotmi.com

  1. My son is on probation, but whenever I call the Court they just tell me “no public record exists.”  I know he is on probation.  Why won’t they talk to me?

If a person is placed on probation with a deferral than the case is completely non-public.  This means that the only response court staff is allowed, by law, to give to questions about these cases is “no public record exists.”

  1. How long will I be on probation?

Probation generally ranges from 6-24 months depending on several factors.  There are a few, more severe offenses, such as stalking, that may result in 5 years probation.

  1. How will a deferral appear on my criminal history?

Deferrals are non-public while on probation and upon successful discharge from probation.  If probation is revoked, the charge would become public at that time.  Other Courts are able to access deferrals if you are in that court for a crime.  This is to ensure that you don’t receive a deferral that you may have already received.

  1. How much will my fine be?

The total amount that you are ordered to pay is composed of several amounts.  You will be charged a fine, prosecution costs, a crime victim fee, and a state minimum fee.  You may also be charged police reimbursement, prosecutor reimbursement, NEEDS assessment fee, DNR fee, DNA testing fee, restitution, and court appointed attorney reimbursement.  The “maximum fine” amount listed on your court paperwork is just one part of the overall total that is required by law to be considered and addressed by the court in the setting of “ fines and costs”.

  1. How much do drug tests costs?

Should you test at this agency you may be charged $10, $17, or $24 for a test.  You may also be charged an additional $12 if you have provided samples in the past that were dilute, so that your specimen can get additional testing.  Other agencies that complete testing have various prices that are typically $10 to $50.

Click here for:  the Gratiot County testing policy; for the district court policy; for the EtG testing policy

  1. Where can I drug test at?

You may test at this agency from 8:00 am to 11:30 am, and from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm.  You may test at any drug testing agency, or medical center as well.  However, it is your responsibility to find an alternate location to test at if you are unable to test here.  Some places that are currently testing in this area are occupational health in Alma (989)466-3296, DnA in Mt. Pleasant (989)317-4990, PATS in Lansing (517)323-8149, 1016 in Mt. Pleasant (989)773-9655.

  1. What if I can’t pay my fine on time?

Per Michigan Court Rule 1.110, all fines and costs are due and payable on the date of sentencing.

At sentencing the Judge will order an alternative jail sentence.  If you are unable to pay your full amount as ordered, you must report to jail to serve the alternative jail sentence.  Speak with your probation officer for further information.

  1. While I am on probation can I enter a restaurant that serves alcohol?

Most people on probation are not allowed to enter any premises that serve alcohol by the glass.  This means that you cannot enter any business whose primary income is based on the sale of alcohol.  Some restaurants also serve alcohol.  You may enter those locations, but you may not enter the bar area, and no one in your party may consume alcohol.

  1. What is probation?

Probation is a set of conditions that the Court places on a defendant instead of sending the person to jail.  The goal of probation is two-fold: to keep the offender from causing harm to society, and to rehabilitate the offender.

  1. How often do I have to report to my probation officer?

This is based on several circumstances.  Some people report 1-2 times per week (although this is rare), and some people do not have to physically report to the probation officer throughout their probation.

  1. Can I have "non-reporting" probation?

Probation does not necessarily require that you come in to physically meet with your probation officer.  However, even if you are on “non-reporting” probation you will still be obligated to report certain things to your probation officer.  These include change of address or phone number, plans to leave the state, and contact with law enforcement officials.

  1.  What do I have to do on probation?

Probation is tailored to fit your offense, the circumstances surrounding it, and your individual history.  Some common conditions of probation are that you cannot consume alcohol and/or drugs, completion of drug/alcohol tests, and counseling.  However, there are several other conditions that may be placed on you as a condition of probation. (link to Judge’s letter)

  1.  Can I be released from probation early?

Under some circumstances the court will consider early release from probation.  All money owed to the court must be paid in full, and all probation conditions must have been met.  You must also have a valid reason to ask for the early discharge.  At that point, you must make your request to the Judge in writing.

  1. What do I have to pay for on probation?

While on probation you may be responsible for any of the following depending on what you were ordered to do: counseling fees, drug/alcohol test costs, electronic monitoring costs, 12 step donation costs, and OCC fees.

  1. Can I just pay a bigger fine or serve my jail time and not be on probation?

Probation is imposed as a conditional sentence at the discretion of the court. This means that the judge will decide at the time of your sentencing whether or not there are valid reasons to place you on probation rather than just impose fines and costs or impose a straight jail sentence. The judge decides each case on a individual basis and you will be given a full opportunity to tell the judge anything that you want him to know and consider before he decides on and imposes your sentence. The judge will evaluate whether your offense and you individually are suitable and appropriate for placement on probation.  You can not “just pay more fines and costs” as a way to avoid being placed on probation by the court.

  1. I have medical marijuana certification.  Can I smoke marijuana while on probation?

For purposes of compliance with probation we do not allow use of medical marijuana while on probation.  (link to policy)

  1. I was ordered not to engage in any aggressive, assaultive, or antisocial conduct.  What is “antisocial” behavior?

Antisocial conduct is any behavior that is disruptive, harmful, disorderly, inconsiderate or belligerent.  

  1. I was ordered to complete drug/alcohol tests while on probation.  How does that work?

There are several options to complete your testing regarding locations and times. (link to policy) 
 

  1. How do I get a restricted license following my drug charge? ( link to policy) 
  2. I was ordered to write an apology letter.  How long does it have to be (link to apology letter) 
  3. Could I be told the dates that I will be called in for a drug test ahead of time, so that I can plan my vacation?

Drug and alcohol testing is only effective when it is random, or daily.  This means that, while it is inconvenient, you cannot be notified ahead of time of the dates that you need to complete your tests.