What Is Probation? 

 November 10, 2014

By  LMW Attorneys

When an individual gets into legal trouble, he or she may be given the option of being put on probation by a judge. For many who have been arrested, this opportunity to be placed on probation is a second chance to avoid incarceration and turn their life around.

What Is Probation?

Probation is a court ordered sentence that is often an alternative to incarceration. Probation occurs when someone is found guilty of a crime but is allowed to stay out of jail or prison as long as they meet certain rules and criteria.

The Terms and Conditions of Probation

When an individual is placed under probation, they will have to follow certain terms and conditions. These can change for offenders based on their crime. Ultimately, the judge will decide the conditions of the probation. Generally, those on probation will have to:

  • Show up to all scheduled court appearances
  • Avoid interacting with convicted felons
  • Avoid traveling outside of the state without permission
  • Meet with a probation officer regularly
  • Submit themselves to random drug or alcohol tests
  • Complete a certain number of community service hours
  • Complete drug or alcohol counseling
  • Avoid breaking any other laws

These are just some examples of the terms of probation. Each case is different, and the judge may include any rules or conditions that he or she sees fit.

What Is a Probation Officer?

Everyone who is on probation is assigned a probation officer. The probation officer is in charge of supervising the person on probation, monitoring their activity and ensuring that they meet all of the probation requirements.

If you are on probation, it is important to have a good relationship with your probation officer as they report back to the court and can eventually give recommendations for you to be taken off probation.

Difference Between Probation and Parole

Many people confuse probation and parole. The difference is, those on parole have served most or part of their time in prison. They are released from prison under the condition that they will follow a certain set of rules, very similar to the terms and conditions of probation.

Those on probation do not go to prison for their crime. They have agreed to go on probation in order to avoid time behind bars.

Violating Probation

If you violate your probation in any way, you will most likely have a probation hearing. At this hearing, you will be stating your case to a judge, not a jury of your peers. This judge will determine if you have in fact broken your probation. If it is determined that a probation violation has occurred, there are a number of things that could happen. The judge may let you off with a simple warning or lengthen your probation. In some cases however, a judge will add additional probation terms or even order you to serve jail or prisontime.

For any other questions you may have about probation, contact the experienced criminal defense attorneys at LMW. Probation violations are a serious offense and should not be taken lightly. Do not risk your freedom, call LMW for a free consultation today.