The most common sentence is Massachusetts courts is to a term of probation. However, there are several different types of probation that a court can order. Below are the five different types of probation that are used in Massachusetts.
- Pre-Trial Probation – Unlike other types of probation, pre-trial probation is given pre-disposition. This means that the person neither pleads or goes to trial. This type of disposition is typically reserved for very minor crimes where the defendant has no criminal record. After being given pre-trial probation, the person is placed on an informal probation for a set period of time. If the person successfully completes this probation their case is dismissed. However, if they violate, then the case is restored to the trial list where the defendant can chose to either take a plea or go to trial.
- CWOF – A CWOF, which stands for Continuance Without a Finding, is typically reserved for an individual with no prior criminal record. When a person is given a CWOF, they are put on probation for a set period of time. After a successful completion of probation, the case will be dismissed. This means that the person will not have a conviction on their criminal record. However, if the person violates probation, the judge has the ability to change the CWOF to a guilty finding and sentence the person up to the maximum amount of jail time per the statute.
- Straight Probation – When a person is sentenced to straight probation they are put on probation for a set period of time. After successfully completing this term of probation, their case will be closed. If the person violates probation, the judge has the ability to sentence the person up to the maximum amount of jail time per the statute.
- Suspended Sentence – When a person is given a suspended sentence they are sentenced to a set period of jail time, however, in lieu of going to jail, they are placed on probation. If they successfully complete probation they will not go to jail, however, if they are found to have violated probation, they will be given the jail sentence previously imposed.
- Split Sentence – When a person is given a split sentence they are given a jail sentence that they must serve a set portion of prior to being released. Once released, they are put on probation for a set period time. If they successfully complete their term of probation after being released then they will not have to go back to jail. However, if they are found to have violated probation then they must finish the remainder of their jail sentence.
Because of the differences in the various types of probation, it is important that you understand exactly how the probation works if you are taking a plea. It is also important to understand if there are any other options available to you besides probation.