Occasionally counsel may represent a client who receives a sentence of probation. More often, clients will be sentenced to a term of imprisonment which will be followed by a term of supervised release. Supervised release is similar to probation in that it involves supervision by a federal probation officer, and requires adherence to conditions set by the court at the original sentencing hearing. Whether the client faces the prospect of a sentence to probation, or a sentence of imprisonment to be followed by a term of supervised release, counsel should be familiar with the law and mechanics of these modes of supervision so that, among other things, counsel may argue for appropriate conditions, advise the client of the ramifications of violating those conditions, and prepare the client for the rigors of federal supervision.
Further, from time to time counsel may be appointed to represent a client who has allegedly violated the conditions of probation or supervised release, and thus faces the potential consequences of revocation and incarceration. Effective advocacy in a revocation case includes an understanding of the process due a client in a revocation proceeding, a familiarity with the applicable statutes and sentencing guidelines, and, if a violation is conceded or proved, the thorough preparation and presentation of mitigating evidence. Please visit our Probation/Supervised Release page for further information.
There have also been some advances in the movement toward alternatives to incarceration, other than probation, within the federal system. For example, the Second Chance Act includes provisions that could increase slightly the percentage of a federal sentence that can be served in home confinement. Below are resources on alternatives to incarceration.