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Probation In Delaware: Comparing Diversion Versus Sentencing


When you consider your options for resolving criminal charges in Delaware, there is no doubt you will aim for ways to stay out of jail. Ideally, you have a solid defense and could beat the charges through a dismissal or acquittal. However, it is more likely that you will be looking at some form of probation if you want to avoid incarceration. There are two options that might suit your situation:

  1. You might qualify for probation before judgment in Delaware; or
  2. You might seek a sentence that includes probation instead of imprisonment.

The advantages of probation are clear, since you can work, support your family, and interact with loved ones as you enjoy your freedom. However, you must also realize the downside and implications of a probation violation, which might impact your strategy. A Wilmington probation violations attorney can explain the laws and guide you in making informed decisions, but a comparison of your options is helpful. 

Probation as a Sentence 

If you are found guilty after a trial, you will be sentenced by the judge either immediately after the verdict or during a sentencing hearing scheduled for a later date. Judges have discretion when issuing a sentence in some cases, and they will often enter a “suspended” sentence that amounts to probation. The process works as follows:

  • The judge enters a sentence of 180 days in jail, suspended for 1 year of supervision.
  • The 180 days in jail is suspended and you do not have to serve time.
  • The 1 year of supervision means you are on probation and must comply with the terms set by the court for the duration.

As such, if you violate probation during this 12-month period, the judge could fall back on the original sentence and incarcerate you for 180 days. Note that probation as a sentence means that the conviction remains on your record.

Probation Before Judgment in Delaware 

Some criminal cases may qualify for this type of probation, in which there is NO verdict of guilt. Instead, you enter a guilty plea and the sentence is deferred while you serve a period of probation. If you comply with the conditions established by the judge, the charges are dismissed without a conviction – though the matter does remain part of your record for purposes of future criminal activity.

A violation of the terms of a probation before judgment can be quite serious. Because you already pled guilty, you cannot go back and try to defend the allegations. Judges have discretion to sentence the full range of punishment designated by law, and they often do not look favorably on a probation violation. 

Contact a Delaware Probation Violations Attorney to Learn More

If you would like to learn more about these and other forms of probation, please contact Michael W. Modica, Attorney at Law. You can reach our Wilmington, DE office by calling 302.600.1262 or checking us out online. We can set up a consultation to review your circumstances and discuss how additional pros and cons might apply to your case.

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