Common Probation Violations and the Resulting Penalties

Last Updated on July 29, 2022 by Fair Punishment Team

When you confess to a crime or are found guilty of it, one option besides receiving a jail or prison sentence is to be put on probation. This is a better alternative to serving time in prison, but it is not easy, and it comes with a set of rules that need to be followed. 

Common Probation Violations and the Resulting Penalties (1)

You might not be fully aware of what a probation order is, how it works, or what might breach it. This article will discuss what probation means, some common infractions, and the consequences of breaking the terms of probation.

What is Probation?

A punishment that can be imposed by the court system is probation. When a person is found guilty of committing a crime, they might be placed on this.

As long as they are under the supervision of a probation officer, someone on probation is allowed to remain in their community. 

This isn’t always an option, though – some offenders serve jail or prison time without ever having the prospect of probation on the table. 

The conditions of probation vary from case to case but can include:

  • Community service
  • Fines
  • Regular meetings with a probation officer
  • Counseling
  • Restitution
  • Restrictions on drugs and alcohol
  • Restrictions on weapons
  • Substance rehabilitation

There are also two types of probation a convicted felon can be placed on. These are:

  • Post-sentence probation – someone may be put on probation after completing jail time or receive a shortened sentence by appealing for probation while in jail.
  • Alternative sanctionsomeone may be served with a probation order instead of jail time, and as long as the probation is completed without any infractions, the offender can skip a jail sentence.

What is the Role of a Probation Officer?

A probation officer is someone who provides support to offenders with a probation order. They help felons with their rehabilitation and transition into a crime-free life. Their duties include:

  • Working with offenders while they are on probation
  • Providing practical support such as job application guidance or help applying for benefits
  • Assessing the risk of further offending
  • Supervising and assessing offenders on work placements
  • Writing reports to be used in the legal process
  • Attending court and sometimes giving evidence
  • Meeting and communicating with criminal justice professionals, social workers and members of the local community

Common Violations

An essential element of a person’s sentence is adhering to the conditions of probation and supervised release. Here is an in-depth look into the most common ways you can violate your probation.

Failing to Pay Fines or Restitution

Depending on the offense you are found guilty of, the judge may order you to pay fines or make reparations to the victim.

A major probation violation is failing to pay according to the court-established payment schedule. Failure to pay fines or make restitution can even result in charges for a new criminal offense.

Failing Drug or Alcohol Tests

The requirements of probation or supervised release typically call for individuals to maintain sobriety. Failure to pass a drug or alcohol test could have detrimental consequences.

A person on probation is required to follow all local, state, and federal regulations, including refraining from taking illicit substances.

Failing to Maintain Employment or Schooling

When on probation, you usually have to actively seek and maintain employment or enroll in school.

This is a typically required condition of probation or supervised release. Failure to do so can be considered a probation violation. 

Common Probation Violations and the Resulting Penalties (1)

Missing Court or Probation Appointments

People who are on supervised probation must regularly meet with their probation officer. Violations of probation include skipping a planned visit with the probation officer. 

It’s unlikely that missing a single meeting due to unforeseen circumstances or a communication error will automatically land a person in jail, but consistently skipping probationary appointments is another issue that should be avoided.

This is also true for set court dates and hearings.

Failing to Complete Community Service

If a condition of your probation is to complete community service, you must complete the mandatory number of hours within a specific time frame. Not completing your community service is considered a violation of probation.

Unapproved Association with Felons

Staying away from particular people or locations may be a condition of a person’s probation or supervised release period, especially if they are connected to criminal activity. 

Any person convicted of a crime is prohibited from intentionally communicating with or interacting with other felons without the consent of their probation officer, regardless of the type of case.

Even if they are a girlfriend, boyfriend, fiancee, or other family member, the court can forbid those on probation or supervised release from associating with known offenders. 

When a judge or probation officer finds cause to suspect that a person’s attempts at rehabilitation and leading a crime-free life may be hampered by such associations, they can prohibit contact with these people. Failure to comply might result in fines or jail time. 

Unapproved Travel or Crossing of State Lines

A person has more freedom to move when they are on probation. However, interstate travel is sometimes restricted and frequently necessitates notifying or even getting permission from a probation officer.

Most individuals on probation are aware that they cannot leave the country, but many are not as cautious while traveling across state lines. It is occasionally possible to cross state lines for employment, family visits, or medical appointments with permission.

Committing Another Crime

The defendant’s continued compliance with the law must always be a fundamental requirement of probation.

One of the most significant infractions is committing a new offense while under supervised release or probation. Committing a crime, even as small as a traffic violation, can result in jail time.

Consequences of Violating Probation

It would be a severe mistake to ignore probation. The purpose of probation is to ensure public safety, and if a person violates a condition of their probation, the public may not be as safe as they could be.

If you are found to have broken the terms of your probation, you will need to appear in court again so that the judge can decide whether or not you should be punished further. Some of the possible consequences you could face include: 

  • Changes to your probation so you have to comply with additional requirements.
  • Extension of your probation for up to five years.
  • Having to serve up to thirty days in jail if found in contempt.
  • Revocation of your probation, resulting in a jail or prison sentence instead.

In Conclusion

Probation offers felons the opportunity to transition back into the community and lead a more productive life as law-abiding citizens. It is in the best interest of anyone on probation to adhere to the conditions put before them in order to avoid more severe penalties.