The courts in Colorado use probation as a sentencing option for criminal offenses. From the state’s perspective, probation is an alternative to prison or jail and a privilege, not a right.
A sentence of probation may be overseen by the district’s probation division (also known as state probation) or a private probation company. A person sentenced to state probation may also receive a sentence to an intensive program, depending upon the circumstances.
Each district in Colorado is free to develop its probation program within limits set by law and standards. This factor, as well as the different types of probation, may explain why probation varies from district to district. This may also explain why the responses to technical and criminal violations are not always the same.
The Colorado Judicial System posts answers to frequently asked questions about probation on its website. Click the button below to learn more.
Because there are so many variables with probation sentences, you should always check with your probation officer for answers to your questions. You can’t compare your probation sentence and experience to someone else’s and assume the answer.
As a probation sentence is a “community sentence,” people on probation aren’t eligible for earned time. In other words, you cannot get earned time while on probation—that’s a myth. However, you can work to be eligible for early termination. In most cases, you need to have completed half of your sentence and all of the terms and conditions of your sentence, including paying all fines, fees, and restitution.
The process for early termination usually involves applying to the court that sentenced you to probation. Your probation officer may initiate the process or you can consult with an attorney to initiate the process on your behalf. If you're representing yourself, most courthouses will have self-help centers that you can use. See the Legal section for more info about Judicial Self-Help Centers.
The judge will rely on input from various parties to the case (e.g., victim, district and defense attorneys). The probation officer’s recommendation will also impact the judge’s decision. Talk to your probation officer to find out the process in your district and what you need to do if you’re interested in early termination. This will vary by district.
It should not cost you anything to apply for early termination. There is a rumor that it costs $150 to file, but this is not true.
There are 23 probation departments and over 65 separate probation offices in Colorado. Click on the button below to see a list of probation departments by county. Then click on the name of your county for addresses and phone numbers.
If you’re on probation, your probation officer will try to match you to the right treatment provider in your community. This is why it’s important that you and your probation officer have good communication. The more your probation officer understands your needs, ideally, the better the officer will be able to match you to the right treatment for you.
If funding is available, your probation officer may also be able to get help with funding for your treatment. Again, this is why it’s important for your probation officer to understand your situation, including whether you qualify for help based on economic need.
Your relationship with a treatment provider is a critical relationship. If it’s not a good match, let your probation officer know. Be prepared to specifically discuss why the relationship isn’t working (not liking a provider isn’t very specific). After this discussion, if you can’t figure out a way to make the relationship work, you can ask your probation officer about working with a different treatment provider.
There are up to 19 standard conditions of probation in Colorado. Some conditions are required by law, while others, such as treatment and restitution, are related to the specific crime and circumstances.
You must follow the conditions of probation to the letter. This document is a legal document and failure to follow conditions can result in incarceration. Almost twice as many adults fail on probation because of a technical violation than for committing a new crime.
If you lose your copy of the conditions, be sure to ask for a replacement, even if you’re afraid it will annoy your probation officer. Explain how you lost the copy and that you don’t want to get into trouble but you need a copy.
You are eligible to register to vote and vote in Colorado while you’re on probation. This includes people on probation who are confined to a county jail serving a misdemeanor sentence. To learn more about the subject on the Secretary of State’s website, click on the button below.