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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.
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