Probation Definition

A type of sentence for a criminal offense. The probationer (convicted person) is sentenced to jail, but that sentence is suspended for a period of months or years while the probationer is released into the community subject to certain conditions of behavior. (In some states, a condition of probation can actually be that the probationer serve some period of time in jail.) Common conditions of probation include performing public service work, paying a fine, maintaining good behavior, receiving therapeutic services, paying restitution to a victim, and reporting regularly to a probation officer. If the probationer fails to comply with the conditions of probation, the probation office may have the person arrested and brought before a judge for a probation hearing. A judge who finds that probation conditions have not been met can revoke probation and impose the original sentence. Compare: parole