What Is Probation in Law?
During sentencing for minor crimes, or after jail time, sometimes the sentence will involve probation. Of the three usual sentences for crimes, probation, fines, and jail time, probation is usually the least serious. If you or someone you know has been sentenced in such a way, it is important to know what this situation entails. Read on to find out what probation is, and how it works.
Probation is a period of court ordered supervision of an offender, during which time the offender is free to live and work as normal, with certain restrictions. Conditions will be laid out outlining what the offender is and is not allowed to do, and giving them certain requirements. Often, a probation officer will be assigned to the offender to make sure that the terms are being followed.
The terms of probation can vary wildly, and usually are related to the type of offence. For example, an offender in a domestic abuse case may be required to stay a certain distance away from the victim, or a drunk driver may not be allowed to drink. Offenders are also often required to do community service, or attend programs like anger management, Alcoholics Anonymous, or drug rehabilitation.
There are many other terms that may be set forth. Offenders are often not allowed to own a gun, required to maintain employment, and sometimes must abide by a curfew. Offenders are also sometimes not allowed to leave the jurisdiction under which they have been sentenced. Sometimes, there is a specific place that they are told to live.
Failing to abide by the terms of probation is not a good idea. Violating probation terms, including missing a required appointment or a meeting with a parole officer, is often punishable by jail time. For this reason, it is extremely important to keep track of one’s obligations while under probation. Probation officers have a lot of leeway when dealing with offenders, so staying on their good side and doing as they direct is also important.
Probation is a lighter sentence than jail, but it is also a condition that requires a lot of diligence. Failing to abide by the terms set forth by the court can easily result in a much stricter sentence. For this reason, offenders under probation need to keep track of their obligations and do everything in their power to obey their probation officer. After the probation period expires without incident, offenders are free to live as normal.