Living With Your Probation

It's important to abide by your conditions of probation--or risk a return to jail.

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Probation can last many months, and almost always involves meetings with a probation officer, as well as following through with the rest of your promises.

Your Probation Officer

Reporting to a probation officer can mean a number of things. The offender may be required to go to the probation office once a week, monthly, or even less frequently. In some busy metropolitan areas, it may entail only checking in with a probation officer via email at least once a month. Probation officers may also search probationers, show up at their homes or workplaces, and require them to submit to drug tests.

Modifying Probation Conditions

If a defendant can show good cause why a judge should change the original probation order, the judge may grant the request and modify the terms of probation.

Example: Greta was sentenced to 48 hours in jail, a large fine, commu­nity service, and probation on a second drunk driving offense. One condition of probation was that she not drive for one year. Six months later, Greta got a job that required her to drive. With her lawyer, she contacted the probation officer, who agreed that she had complied with all of the probation conditions for the first six months. The P.O. (probation officer) told them he would not oppose their request to the judge to lift the ban on driving for the remainder of the probation term. Although the judge has authority to deny Greta’s request for a change in the condition that allows her to drive, most judges tend to follow probation officers’ recommendations. In this case, the judge is likely to grant the request because Greta has complied with all of her probation conditions and has a valid basis for her request.

This article was excerpted from The Criminal Law Handbook, by Paul Bergman, J.D., and Sara J. Berman, J.D.

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