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Probation is a type of court order given to convicted defendants in lieu of or in addition to prison sentences and other punishments. Often, a person is granted probation after serving a portion of his or her prison sentence, in order to see if he or she can manage to live a law-abiding life. There are various conditions of probation that vary regionally. Violation of any of the conditions of probation may result in a return to jail and an extended sentence.
It is critically important to carefully read over the conditions of probation to ensure compliance. The conditions of probation may change depending on local laws, the type of crime committed, and other extenuating circumstances. Complying with conditions of probation can help a convicted person prove his or her ability to live in society, and, in some cases, even lead to the eradication of a criminal record. Consult with a probation officer or legal professional if any particular condition is unclear to help avoid violations.
The basic terms of probation require that the convicted person do his utmost to live a normal, legal, life. Many require the person on probation to actively seek work and hold down a job during the term of probation. Some areas will not release a person on probation until there is proof that he or she has a place to stay and a plan to find gainful employment.
People on probation are often required to have regular meetings with a probation officer. These serve as formal check-ups on the person's status and circumstances while on probation. A probation officer must be supplied with any changes to address or contact information, and may need to grant permission before the convicted person is allowed to travel out of the region. Conditions of probation may also require the person to comply with a probation officer's request for drug tests and to cooperate with efforts to verify employment and tenancy.
In many cases, someone who has been convicted and granted probation is prohibited from certain actions. He or she may not be able to purchase, possess, or use a firearm, and may be forbidden to use, sell, or possess drugs or alcohol. Association with other known criminals may be banned in some cases. If crimes have included molestation or other sexual charges involving minors, a person on probation may not be permitted to associate with minors or be in the vicinity of schools or playgrounds.
Some conditions of probation require the convicted person to follow the guidelines laid out in sentencing, including court-ordered treatment such as rehabilitation or counseling. A person may be required to do community service or volunteer work, which must be verified by a responsible member of the service organization. Failure to comply with these conditions may suggest that a convicted person is not serious about following legal orders.
I'm glad some conditions of probation involve association with known criminals. I think a lot of ex-cons do better if they can avoid the temptation of going back to their old street life. I worked with a guy who was on probation after serving time for armed robbery, and he was really serious about getting his life back together and staying clean. I even drove him to his AA meetings after work.
One day I came into work and he wasn't there. My manager told me he was back in jail because he and an old buddy decided to rob a convenience store. Probation rules might be harsh, but he would still be free if he had just obeyed them for a little while longer.
I had a cousin who was on probation for statutory rape (he was 19 and his girlfriend was 15), and one of the conditions of probation was that he couldn't be left alone with anyone under the age of 18. It didn't matter if the child was a relative or a known friend of the family or whatever.
It got to the point where he would just leave a room if a minor walked in. He didn't want his probation officer getting the wrong idea if someone saw him. This went on for a few years, but he said it was still better than being in jail.
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