What is probation and how does it work?

What is Probation and Does it Work? The word probation is used often but many times, in the wrong context. It is quite normal for people to use the words probation and parole interchangeably.

In this article, we will explain what probation is. We will also list the conditions that individuals have to obey during the probational period. Furthermore, the types of probation will be explained. Then, we will provide a brief explanation of what happens when you violate the terms of your probation.

Using this article, we hope to enlighten you on the meaning of probation and how this sanction works.

What is probation?

What is probation

Probation is an alternative method of rehabilitation ordered by a court. When an offender is placed on probation, the individual is receiving punishment without being in a prison. The offender may be asked to complete the probational period in a rehabilitation center. But, in most cases, the defendant can be on probation and still live at home.

A probation sentence is usually issued in cases of minor crimes, first-time offenders or minors. Hence, most people placed on probation are not seen as a threat to the people living in the same community. If the presiding judge and correctional officers believe that rehabilitation can be achieved through probation, this sanction will be used.

The individual on probation must agree to abide by certain rules during the probationary period.
If the offender fails to abide by the rules, they will be called in for a violation of probation hearing. At this hearing, the offender may be sanctioned further or even be imprisoned.

Importantly, probation is not a right. Some felonies have a mandatory prison time attached to them. Hence, not all minors, first-time offenders will be offered a probation deal.  Similarly, some felons will not be allowed to appeal for a probation sentence.

The risk of imprisonment attached to being on probation will cause the offender to avoid crime during the probationary period. If the individual can abide by the strict conditions of probation, they will be able to complete their probation sentence without a hitch.

The conditions of probation are numerous and may vary according to the crime that the offender committed. These conditions are tailored to prevent a repeat of the offense. These conditions are supposed to ensure that the offender is not in a position to be implicated by other criminals.

The common terms of probation include:

– You are not allowed to leave the country during the probationary period.
– You must remain in the same state where you were sentenced. If you wish to move to a different residence within the same state, you must inform your probation officer and the court.
– You must meet your probation officer when directed.
– Supervisory costs and other costs attached to your probation must be paid monthly. The costs include drug/ alcohol tests.
– If applicable, you must pay compensation or restitution when due.
– You must avoid meeting and communicating with former criminal associates.
– You must attend court-ordered programs, rehabilitation or counseling
– If you are arrested or charged with any new offenses, you must inform your probation officer.
– You must not keep drugs or similar items in your home.
– Random home searches should not be impeded.
– If applicable, you must maintain the curfew ordered by the court.
– You must not purchase or keep firearms at home.

These are common conditions of probation that many offenders receive. However, if the felon committed serious crimes, they may be given more restrictions. The felon may also receive tailored conditions of probation. Some of these conditions include:

– You must not keep alcohol in your home.
– You must wear your location monitoring device at all times.
– Possession of sexual material is prohibited.
– You must report to a court-approved therapist every week.
– You must check-in with your probation officer often.

If the offender does not break any of these rules, they will be able to complete their probation sentence without incident. However, if an offender violates the terms of their parole, they may be charged again and sentenced with severe punishment.

While the offender is on probation, they will need to see their probation officer often. The probation officer has numerous duties.

– The probation officer ensures that the offender has provided accurate information. He may check  and ensure that the individual lives and works in the places that they stated.
– The officer may also help people to find employment if necessary.
– Probation officers provide the court with periodic progress reports on the individual on probation.
– If one of the conditions of the probation is the avoidance of drugs and alcohol, the probation officer may supervise the drug or alcohol testing.
– Probation officers also ensure that offenders are attending programs stated in the conditions of their probation.
– The probation officer can direct offenders to the resources they need to live honestly.
– Probation officers monitor the activities of the offender and report any questionable activities. If the felon is meeting with known criminals, the officer will report this as well.
– In some cases, the probation officer provides a character assessment of the offender to the court.
– Importantly, probation officers can help to remove minors or offenders from harmful situations at home.

How does probation work?

how does probation works

Probation can be supervised by the state or by the federal government. The crime that the felon committed will determine who supervises their probation.

State probation: Individuals who have been convicted for breaking state laws within the United States may be placed on probation. In such a case, the state in which the felon was sentenced will be responsible for supervising the probation.

If the felon wishes to move to a different state before the probationary period is over, it is possible. However, both state governments will need to approve the transfer of probation supervision. If either state does not agree to the transfer, then the felon will not be permitted to relocate.

Federal probation: Individuals who have been convicted for committing federal offenses will be supervised by the Office of Probation and Pretrial Services. The supervision unit of this department is responsible for supervising individuals on federal probation.

Whether you are are on federal probation or state probation, you should adhere to your conditions for probation. If you violate the terms of probation and it is discovered, you will be penalized.

A few individuals have stated that federal probation is stricter than state probation. This is because the officers on the federal level may have more resources available. However, probation officers are allowed to use their discretion while supervising offenders. Therefore, some officers may be lenient while others are less forgiving.

Is there a difference between misdemeanor probation and felony probation?

Individuals who were convicted for misdemeanors and others convicted for felonies may be put on probation. Hence, you may wonder if there is a difference between misdemeanor probation and felony probation.
The answer is yes! There are a few differences between the two.

1. Duration of the probation: Individuals convicted for misdemeanors will be put on probation for 6 months to 1 year. However, felons may be on probation for at least 18 months. If the felon violates the terms of their probation, the length of their sentence can be extended.

2. The supervising body: Most misdemeanor probation are supervised by the state or county. Felony probation are usually supervised by the Office of Probation and Pretrial Services.

3. Transfer of sentence: If a felon wishes to move to a different state, the felony probation can be transferred to the other state. However, misdemeanor probation cannot be transferred as easily.

4. Terms of probation: Individuals placed on misdemeanor probation has a common set of conditions they must comply with while on probation. Felons on probation have stricter and modified terms of probation that they must comply with.

Recommended: Difference Between Parole and Probation

What will happen if you violate the terms of your probation?

Some individuals do not comply with the terms of their probation. While some people commit a crime while on probation, others may fail to fulfill conditions such as :

– Visits to the probation officer
– Failure to pay fines
– Association with criminals and
– Not attending court ordered programs.
If you have violated the terms of your probation, you may be wondering what happens next.

The following are the things that happen when you violate the terms of your probation;

1. Your probation officer may give you a strict warning.
2. If your probation officer chooses to report you, you may be asked to appear in court for a violation of probation hearing.
3. If you are found guilty of violating the terms of your probation, you will be sentenced. Possible penalties include community service, payment of fines, extended probation time, stricter terms of probation or imprisonment.

If you are currently on probation (state or federal), we advise that you comply with the terms of your probation to avoid further penalties.

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