What is Probation?
A person is put on probation when they've been convicted of or pleaded guilty to a crime but given an alternative to incarceration. Instead of serving their sentence in jail or prison, the offender is allowed to remain free. However, they are still under supervision and must comply with the terms and conditions of their probation.
What is Misdemeanor Probation?
Misdemeanor probation lets low-risk criminal offenders serve their sentences while living in the community – under the court’s supervision – rather than going to jail. Also commonly referred to as “summary” or “informal” probation, misdemeanor probation has rules and conditions that are somewhat different from felony or “formal” probation. Probationers must comply with the terms and conditions of misdemeanor probation, which may include community service, fees, classes, counseling, or treatment.
How is Felony Probation Different from Misdemeanor Probation?
Felonies are serious crimes such as murder, residential burglary, torture, stalking, etc. Misdemeanors are less serious than felonies, but more serious than infractions. As such, felony crimes carry longer sentences and greater punishments than misdemeanors. This is why a felony probation sentence if granted, is usually much longer and more invasive in the defendant’s life than a misdemeanor probation sentence.
What are the Most Common Ways Probation is Violated?
If you are arrested and charged with another crime while on probation, you will likely be prosecuted for the new charge, and the probation you are serving will probably be revoked.
However, most probation violations are not technically considered crimes and are instead violations of the terms and conditions set forth by the court. Probation may be violated for an offender:
- Failing to appear in court
- Failing to pay fees or fines
- Failing to complete counseling, treatment, or education
- Failing to report to your probation officer
- Failing to complete community service
- Failing to maintain employment
- Failing a drug test
- “Absconding” – leaving the jurisdiction without permission
What is Parole, and How is it Different from Probation?
Probation and parole have similar requirements, but they are different in several ways. While parole is granted to an offender who is already serving jail time, probation is granted as an alternative to going to jail. Probation allows the individual to remain free and have their behavior monitored by a probation officer, while parole is granted by a parole board and allows a person to be released from jail or prison before the end of their formal sentence.
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