A felony is a serious criminal offense. Hence, there is the misconception that every individual convicted for committing a felony is imprisoned for a certain period. But, this is not always the case. After assessing the conditions that surrounded the occurrence of the felony, the gravity of the offense, the criminal history of the offender and the assessment given by correctional officers, some defendants are placed on probation.
Importantly, a condition for being granted probation is that the offender is not a risk to other individuals in the community.
Most felons are relieved to be granted probation instead of prison time. This is because they believe being on probation is better than being imprisoned; But, being on probation is still restrictive. When you are granted probation, you will be given terms that you must obey. Failure to obey the terms of your probation could lead to revocation of the probation and consequently, imprisonment.
Recommended: Difference Between Probation and Parole
Felony Probation Rules – Terms and Conditions You Must Know
In this article, we will explain 10 rules that you should know about being on probation. Furthermore, we will list a few rules that do not apply to all individuals on felony probation.
1. Failure to abide by terms of your probation could lead to imprisonment
Felony probation may sound like light reproof when an individual is faced with imprisonment. However, being on probation is not a walk in the park. There are numerous rules and regulations that you will need to abide by. You will need to pay fines, see your probation officer and maybe complete community service. If you fail to follow the stated terms for your probation, you can be sent to prison.
2. You must see your probation officer when required
A probation officer is an individual whose job entails monitoring and supervising individuals that have just been released from prison and people who are serving a suspended sentence.
Felons must report to their probation officers regularly. The probation officer may also request impromptu visits. After the officer has met with the felon several times, he or she may decide to alter the communication methods. The probation officer may ask the felon to check in periodically via video and phone calls.
If you fail to report to your probation officer, you are violating the terms of your probation. Your probation officer may report this failure and this could ultimately lead to your imprisonment.
3. You cannot travel without prior approval
If you are on felony probation, you must inform your probation officer before planning a trip out of the state. After informing the probation officer, you may be granted permission to travel. If you are not given permission, you should not leave the state.
Leaving the state without approval while on felony probation is a violation of the terms and conditions of the probation. If your probation officer finds out that you left the state and reports you, you may be penalized.
4. You must pay for your supervision
If you are on probation, you will need to pay a fee every month to cover the probationary supervision. The fee is not a fixed amount. The amount varies according to the offense you committed, the county and the state you reside in. If you are unable to pay for probationary supervision, payment will be collected through other methods.
The court may order that a stated amount should be removed from your paycheck until the debt is paid.
Significantly, if you are unable to pay, you will not be imprisoned or charged for a separate offense.
5. You must obtain permission to move to another state
There are numerous reasons why a felon may need to move to a different state. Some reasons include: employment, family needs, school, and opportunities.
To leave the state without being penalized, you must inform your probation officer. Afterward, you need to petition the court, and explain why you need to move. If your petition is approved, you will be able to move out of the state.
When you move, the probation does not end. Instead, you will remain under supervision and you will be given a new probation officer.
Note: If you are not moving to a new state but wish to move to a new address, you need to inform your probation officer.
6. Random home searches are allowed
If you were convicted for drug-related offenses, you may have to endure random home searches. The officers performing the searches will not need to have a warrant. The purpose of these searches is to ensure that you are not involved in the production and /or distribution of hard drugs.
If items such as drugs and weapons are found in your home, your probation may be revoked. Attempting to stop the home search may also be seen as a violation of the terms of your probation.
In some cases, you may also be subjected to random drug tests. Even if you are not involved in the distribution of drugs, the drug test will be used to ascertain that you are not using drugs. Individuals who have been ordered by the court to avoid consuming alcohol may be tested for alcohol consumption as well.
7. You should not associate with known criminals
When you are given a probation deal, you will be cautioned not to deal with former criminal associates. Even if the criminals are not your former associates, you should avoid these individuals. If your family is involved in criminal activities, you will have to stop seeing them to follow the rules of your probation.
If it is discovered that you are meeting with criminals, your probation officer may believe that you are involved in questionable activities. Furthermore, associating with people involved in crime shows that the felon is not willing to move forward with the rehabilitation process.
Talking to or visiting these criminals may not be a crime. But, it is a violation of probation terms and conditions.
If you are involved in criminal activities with your former associates, the probation may be revoked.
8. You must have a job
Most individuals granted probation are required to find gainful employment by the court. Your probation officer may call to ensure that you are employed. If you have been unable to find a job, it is best to call your probation officer, inform them of your efforts and continue to seek employment.
Read also: Companies That Hire Felons
Being employed (position regardless) shows that you are attempting to live an honest life while providing for your basic needs.
If you can only find jobs to you are overqualified to fill, you should accept the job offer. If you refuse to get a job, you be will be violating the terms and conditions of your probation.
9. You must attend any court-ordered programs
The nature of the felony committed will dictate the program the court orders you to attend. Individuals who committed violent crimes may be asked to attend anger management classes. Drug addicts and alcoholics may be ordered to attend counseling.
Attending this program is not a choice. If you do not go to court-ordered programs, you will be violating the conditions for probation.
10. The probation officer requires your consent to disclose information concerning you
It is common for family and loved ones to ask probation officers about how the individual is faring. The probation officer will only be able to release information about minors to their parents or guardians.
If you are over 18 years old, your probation officer will need your permission to give out information concerning you.
The terms of probation differ according to the case, the severity of the offense, location and even the judge presiding over the case. Some other rules for being on felony probation include:
– Do not tamper with the monitoring device: This applies to people put on house arrest: In such a case, you will be given an electronic monitoring device. Sabotaging, removing or altering this device in any way may be seen as a violation of the probation.
Leaving the house without permission, even while wearing the monitoring device is also a violation of the terms of probation.
– Payment of restitution: If you committed a felony that led to the loss of property or caused someone harm, payment of compensation may be a term for your probation. If you are reported for not paying compensation, you will be arrested. Afterward, your wages may be garnished until you have fully paid the compensation. In the worst-case scenario, your probation may be revoked for noncompliance with the conditions of your probation.
So, what happens if you violate the probation terms?
If you do not adhere to the terms, your probation officer may give you a strict warning. If the violation was minor or a first offense, the probation officer may treat it as such.
However, if you committed another crime or repeatedly violated the terms of your probation, you may be ordered to appear in court.
At the probation violation hearing, you may be penalized. Some penalties include additional probation period, payment of fines, and imprisonment.
Recommended Reading: Florida Felony Probation Rules
Robert Gomez was born and raised in the Bronx, New York. He currently lives in Northern California with “the wifey,” “the kids,” “the dog,” and “that cat,” 🙁 He is also a former journalist who has interviewed murderers on death row. Felonyfriendlyjobs.org was born to help ex-felons get a second chance in life.