It's no secret that criminal defendants prefer probation over going to jail or prison, but not everybody understands probation. For those who don't know, probation is where an adult offender is supervised in the community by a probation officer instead of being incarcerated.
Probation is not the same as parole. With probation, the defendant is released in the community before or instead of being incarcerated. In contrast, when someone is on parole, they are released from prison early, but are still under the watchful eye of the courts and like probationers, must follow strict rules and guidelines.
General Probation Rules
While each state has adopted its own way of setting probation conditions, there are a lot of similarities between jurisdictions. Here are some examples of common probation conditions:
- Not break any new laws, whether state or federal.
- Submit to random drug and/or alcohol testing when required to.
- Stay away from known criminals and places where criminal activity is known to take place.
- Wear an alcohol-monitoring device when required to.
- Support one's dependents, such as the defendant's children.
- Maintain employment at a respectable job.
- Allow the probation officer to visit the defendant's home or place of work.
- Participate in any court-ordered counseling or substance abuse programs.
- If ordered, stay within a specific area, such as in the county or state.
- Not travel abroad if ordered not to.
- Pay all fines, court-ordered costs, and fees for a public defender if ordered by the court.
- Pay victim restitution if ordered to.
- Complete all community service hours.
- Report to the probation officer regularly.
The above is a list of the most common conditions for probation, however, the judge has the authority to order conditions that he or she deems necessary to protect the victims of the crime, or aid in the rehabilitation of the defendant. Essentially, the judge has wide discretion to impose conditions that he or she sees fit.
What if a defendant violates one of the above conditions? Depending on the circumstances and the seriousness of a probation violation, the defendant's probation can be revoked, and he or she can be incarcerated as a result.
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