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Probation: What It Means and Why It’s Important to Comply With the Terms

People who are facing criminal charges will often wonder what type of sentence they’ll have to deal with if they’re convicted. Many different sentences are possible. One of these is probation.

A person who’s on probation is under the supervision of a probation officer. The probationer will have to report to the officer and comply with the terms of the program. All of the terms of probation are meant to help the probationer live a life without breaking laws.

Probation rules vary greatly

The rules a probationer has to follow can vary, but there are some that are standard throughout most probation programs. Some of the standard requirements for probation include:

  • Report to the probation officer as required
  • Get and hold a suitable job
  • Have stable housing
  • Avoid associated with felons
  • Stay out of legal trouble
  • Pay fines and fees as ordered
  • Complete all court-ordered conditions

Some other possible terms include things like taking random drug tests for people who have a drug conviction. The probation office will provide individuals with a comprehensive list of rules and conditions they must follow while on probation, so be sure you understand those if you’re on probation.

Probation violations aren’t handled with a jury

A probation violation occurs when a person doesn’t comply with the terms of probation. Probation officers can sometimes issue a warning. In other cases, they have to file the violation.

A person who faces a probation violation won’t face a jury trial. Instead, these matters are handled through a bench trial. In this type of trial, you speak directly to the judge. The judge makes a ruling based on the information presented. Probation violations can lead to time in prison and other penalties, so they must be taken seriously.

Anyone who’s facing criminal charges should ensure they understand their options for a defense. The defense strategy can have an impact on the sentence you’re facing. If you’re placed on probation and face a violation, you should work with someone familiar with these matters. Getting started as quickly as possible gives you time to explore the options you have for your defense.