Juvenile Criminal Probation in New Mexico

The great majority of juvenile criminal cases, whether misdemeanor or felony, do not go to trial but end with a plea bargain.

As part of the plea bargain the delinquent child is usually put on probation. As soon as the plea agreement is signed the judge orders the delinquent child to meet with an intake probation officer, and then they are assigned a permanent probation officer.

Terms of probation range from six months to 2 years though the court can exercise jurisdiction and extend probation until the delinquent turns 21. In fact, every offense under the juvenile code carries up to two years in detention.

Actual incarceration is the exception for all but the most serious and/or serial repeat offenders and those children that simply will not comply with the terms of probation.

It is the job of the probation officer to monitor the child to make sure they are in compliance with their probation agreement. Some of the conditions in the probation agreement include but are not limited to obeying all state and federal laws, going to school, not possessing weapons, not associating with certain individuals, restrictions on driving privileges and getting a job. In addition, there are two more that trip kids up the most: violations of curfew and violation of the prohibition on the use of drugs or alcohol (particularly marijuana).

Probation Officers set up appointments for the child to come to their office so they can meet. During that meeting the Juvenile Probation Officer will often ask the child to take a urine analysis to test for drugs and alcohol. If the child tests positive for drugs or alcohol the probation officer can ask the children‘s court attorney to revoke the delinquent‘s probation and spend the rest of their sentence in jail. More common for a first dirty urine test, the probation officer will call for more frequent meetings with probation along with random urine testing.

Assuming all else fails in the supervision of the child, the probation officer may recommend the revocation of probation. In order to revoke the child‘s probation, the children‘s court attorney must file a probation violation which will be followed by a hearing where the probation officer states the violation and makes a recommendation to the Judge. The Judge may revoke probation or some other type of sanction to get the child‘s attention to comply with the probation agreement.

If at the tail end of a probationary period the child is not complying and the child is over the age of eighteen, the probation officer may suggest a 15 day and cut. A fifteen day and cut means that the child will spend 15 days in jail and is cut from probation with an unsatisfactory discharge.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly for those children that are serious about turning things around, the probation officer does have discretion to request that the court release the child from probation early. As such, if a child is doing well on probation, the probation officer may ask the Judge to reduce the amount of time the child is on probation. This should serve as a great incentive for compliance if possible detention is not enough.

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