What is Criminal Probation and How Does it Work?

When someone is convicted of a crime there is a chance that they could be orders to serve out a probation period after their jail sentence has been served. Sometimes probation is offered in place of serving jail time, but it is typically only considered a possibility to people who are not considered a threat to society. Because so many prisons are overcrowded these days, probation is a way to allow defendants to live outside the prison walls under very strict limitations and conditions. People who are serving out probation are expected to be on their best behavior and they are required to be law-abiding citizens and they serve out the remainder of their sentence as a part of the community.

A typical probation period can last anywhere from six months up to five years, the common sentence is around three years. While on probation, the defendant will be closely supervised and the goal is for them to be working a stable job with routine work hours. The conditions for probation can vary from case to case depending on the specifics of their crime, but some of the limitations and conditions may include:

  • Paying legal fines and court costs
  • Report to their correlating probation officer (typically on a monthly basis)
  • Informing their probation officer of where they live and work
  • Drug and alcohol testing
  • Completing community service hours
  • Completing a drug/alcohol treatment program

If any of the required conditions are not followed or the defendant breaks the law again, then they can be placed back into custody. The whole purpose of probation is to test the defendant by giving them a freedom trial period. If they turn things around then they can serve the out the remainder of their sentence as part of the community. However, if the court sees a pattern of bad criminal behavior then they can revoke the probation and return them to incarceration.

When a defendant is placed on probation, the court is giving them an opportunity to redeem themselves and to turn their life around. The overall goal is to rehabilitate the offender and help point them back in the direction of success. Once their probation period has been fully served, then they have legally earned back their freedom and they will no longer need to report to their probation officer.

If you have further questions about probation or specifics regarding your criminal case, please do not hesitate to contact my Salem criminal defense law firm. You can also read through my common questions page. I offer a free case evaluation so pick up the phone and call (888) 499-8065 today.

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