Probation is an option that allows an individual being formally accused of a crime to remain outside of jail, provided they meet specific criteria. One of the critical requirements of probation is to prove that the individual will not be a danger to society. Other requirements can involve certain duties that the individual must complete to remain out of jail. Some examples of conditions can include meeting regularly with a probation officer, not using illegal substances, avoiding particular individuals or places, scheduled court appearances, or performing community service.
The amount of time that an individual is on probation is going to depend on the state where the crime was committed and where the court hearings take place. Usually, probation lasts between one and three years in the United States. This amount of time can change depending on the severity of the crime.
If an individual violates their probation agreement, they are usually given a first warning. Depending on what crime they were charged with and what the violation was, the probation officer can recommend more severe punishments. For individuals that violate their probation agreement several times, it is possible that they will have to go to jail, have additional regulations added to their probation agreement, or pay a hefty fine.
Generally speaking, it is recommended to serve out your probation sentence since you are fortunate to not be in jail for the crimes that you committed. In many states, it is possible to apply for an early release from probation, and it is entirely up to the judge's discretion to grant your request. Usually, judges require that you serve at least one-third of your probation before you become eligible to request early release. Judges will also require you to pay all of your fees, complete all hours of community service, or finish any mandatory classes that were assigned to you.
If your probation is revoked, you will not go to jail immediately. At times, judges will add additional time to your probation, recommend possible treatment programs, or have you pay a substantial fine. If your violation is severe, judges may order you to serve your original sentence in jail or spend part of your sentence in jail. It is important not to violate your probation agreement because it will only cause you further legal issues that will have a negative impact on your permanent record.
Probation and parole are two terms that are often confused. The key difference between them is parole is for someone who has already served part of their sentence in jail and can leave earlier based on good behavior and a strict agreement to follow. In contrast, probation is a way for a person to avoid jail entirely provided that they are not a risk to society and meet certain conditions that are set out by the judge overseeing their case.
Be sure to take your probation agreement seriously. The sooner that you comply with the requirements, the sooner that you can move on with your life. It is wise to stay far away from any people or places that contributed to you being charged in the first place. This way, you are not tempted to engage in behavior that will cause you additional problems down the road. Be sure to establish a good relationship with your probation officer since they will be reporting to the judge about your adherence to your probation agreement.
Probation is an alternative that is sometimes granted by judges to prevent a jail sentence. One of the key elements of securing probation versus jail is demonstrating that the individual will not be a threat to society if they are allowed to remain outside of jail. If probation is granted, the individual may be outside of jail but will have to meet certain conditions and requirements that are set out by the court. Some common examples include drug or alcohol tests, proving stable employment, and participating in rehabilitation programs.