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What is Probation?

Probation is an alternative to prison. It is usually offered to first (or second) offenders whose crimes are not of the most serious nature, and who the court believes can benefit from rehabilitative services. These services might include treatment for alcoholism, domestic violence, sex offender issues, drug dependency, psychological issues, or anything else a person needs help with to become a law abiding member of the community. Compliance with these services is required to remain on probation.

On probation, a person is assigned to an agent, who monitors the person’s progress, checks up on them, and makes sure they comply with the terms of probation.

Probation may also have a punishment component, including either jail time or electronic monitoring.

A person on probation will be ordered to pay probation service fees as well as any restitution owed to the crime victims involved in the case. A probationer will be ordered to perform community service.

Probation isn’t easy. A lot is required of the participant, and the agent is authorized to intrude significantly into your personal life. (He can show up unannounced and search your house without a warrant.) However, it is also a way of avoiding prison. Good performance on probation can result in discharge. Poor performance can result in revocation, which will land a person behind bars.

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