Effective July 1, 2017, Georgia law has been changed to provide greater incentives for compliance with probation for first offenders. O.C.G.A. § 17-10-1(B) now provides that upon sentencing on a first felony conviction, the court must set a behavioral incentive date (BID).
What Sentences Get a BID?
It must be for a first felony conviction. It must be a straight probation sentence. Split sentences would not be eligible. A split sentence is one where the person must serve a period of time in the custody of the Department of Corrections in incarceration.
How Far Out Can the BID be?
The BID can be no more than three years from the start of the sentence but can be earlier.
What Must Be Done to Benefit from the BID?
The probationer must not have been arrested for anything other than a nonserious traffic offense (as defined in O.C.G.A. § 35-3-37).
The probationer must have been compliant with the general and special conditions of probation imposed.
The probationer must have paid all restitution owed.
What is a nonserious traffic offense?
A nonserious traffic offense is any offense set out in the Motor Vehicle Title (Title 40) of the Georgia Code other than the serious violations set out in Article 15 of Chapter 6 of Title 40. Those serious violations include reckless driving, DUI, homicide by vehicle, feticide by vehicle serious injury by vehicle, fleeing or attempting to elude a law enforcement officer, impersonating a law enforcement officer, homicide or serious injury by interference with traffic control device or railroad signn or signal, and aggressive driving.
What if I have arrest but the charge is dismissed?
The way that the new provision is written, the mere fact of arrest is a disqualifier against the benefit of the BID. However, in such a case, a court could still exercise its discretion to modify the probation sentence. A court could still early terminate probation.
What Happens if the Probationer Meets the Requirements?
If the probationer does what is required, then the Department of Community Supervision must submit the case back to the court within 60 days after the BID ith a proposed order to terminate the probation.
Does the Court Have to Sign the Order Terminating Probation?
Within thirty days of the submission of the order, either the prosecutor or the judge can request a hearing. The purpose, standard, and issues for such hearing are undefined in the new provision. The court is authorized to take whatever action “it determines would be for the best interest of justice and the welfare of society.
Does This Law Change Existing Provisions to Reduce Active Supervision?
Currently, many felony probation sentences are eligible to go off of active supervision after two years. There is no change to this provision. Some sentences are not eligible for inactive supervision including street gang crimes. Fines or funds payment, other than restitution, are no longer a reason for a case not to go to inactive supervision. Collection of restitution continues to be a reason to continue active supervision.
Black Law Offices, LLC, assists people facing criminal charges and probation issues throughout Northeast Georgia. We are experienced advocates for people facing difficult situations.