Probation in criminal law is a period of supervision over an offender, ordered by the court often in lieu of incarceration.

In some jurisdictions, the term probation applies only to community sentences (alternatives to incarceration), such as suspended sentences.[1] In others, probation also includes supervision of those conditionally released from prison on parole.[2]

An offender on probation is ordered to follow certain conditions set forth by the court, often under the supervision of a probation officer. During the period of probation, an offender faces the threat of being incarcerated if found breaking the rules set by the court or probation officer.

Offenders are ordinarily required to maintain law-abiding behavior, and may be ordered to refrain from possession of firearms, remain employed, participate in an educational program, abide by a curfew, live at a directed place, obey the orders of the probation officer, or not leave the jurisdiction. The probationer might be ordered as well to refrain from contact with the victims (such as a former partner in a domestic violence case), with potential victims of similar crimes (such as minors, if the instant offense involves child sexual abuse), or with known criminals, particularly co-defendants. Additionally, offenders can be subject to refrain from the use or possession of alcohol and other drugs and may be ordered to submit to alcohol/drug tests or participate in alcohol/drug psychological treatment. Offenders on probation might be fitted with an electronic tag (or monitor), which signals their movement to officials. Some courts permit defendants of limited means to perform community service in order to pay off their probation fines.[3]

  1. ^ "Probation and Parole in the United States, 2011" (PDF). Bulletin. U.S. Department of Justice. April 2014. Retrieved 29 August 2017.
  2. ^ "Probation". Government Digital Service. Retrieved 13 June 2013.
  3. ^ Bennett, Brock (18 March 2015). "Community Service Helps Pay Probation Fines". Retrieved 29 August 2017.