What Is Probation?
Jail sentences and prison time are relatively easy to grasp, but what is probation? In this article, we will explain the ins and outs of probation so you can understand what it means and how it may affect your or your loved one’s life.
What Is Probation?
Probation is a process where someone is not imprisoned but must follow strict rules in order to protect their community. It is offered as an alternative to incarceration, but violating probation will end up in a prison sentence. There are generally two reasons someone may get probation:
- As an alternative to serving any time in prison – This is often offered to first-time offenders who had mitigating factors to their offense.
- As an early release process for detainees who display good behavior – This allows them to finish their prison sentence a little earlier than usual as long as they comply with the probation rules.
During probation, you will need to report to a probation officer on a regular basis and answer questions to prove you have followed all of the conditions of probation. These may include things like:
- Regular drug and alcohol testing
- Staying within the state or local area
- Attending AA or NA meetings
- Attending counselling or rehabilitation
- Taking rehabilitation or behavioral classes
- Being employed
- Staying away from known criminals and criminal activity
- Not committing any crimes (not even infractions)
- Sticking to a curfew or using location monitoring devices
- Not having any weapons in the house
- Completing community service
The penalty for breaking any of these conditions is going back to jail. Not only will you have to serve the rest of your sentence in jail, but you will also get additional time for breaking probation.
What Does a Probation Officer Do?
The role of a probation officer is to keep tabs on you and make sure you are following probation conditions. You will report to them on a regular basis, and they will ask you questions about how you are doing and what conditions you are struggling with. They are a great source of resources and can help you find counselling if you are struggling and even find a job if you are having trouble finding one. A probation officer is not just there to catch you out when you are breaking probation conditions; they are there to support you and keep you out of jail.
Some of the tasks the probation officer may need to perform vary depending on the type of crime the person committed and the conditions of their probation. In some cases, the probation officer will need to do random checks to verify the person on probation is following the rules.
The probation officer will often act as a witness in any court hearings you have while on probation. This includes hearings for the original crime and hearings you may have if you violate the conditions of probation.
Can I Go to Jail If I’m On Probation?
Yes, some people will serve time in jail and go on probation. Sometimes probation is offered as a way to release a prisoner early.
Unfortunately, many people struggle to meet the conditions of probation and are sent to jail for violating probation. While it is easier to be out of jail and earning money and seeing family and friends, it can be hard to reconcile your life with the new limitations. Some people find it much easier to just serve their time in jail, even if the conditions are stricter.