What are the Different Types of Probation Violation?

Patrick Roland

In many countries, probation is an alternative to prison time or fines in certain court cases. This usually is a period of time where the convicted person can prove that he or she can be a functional part of society and not a risk to public safety. Whenever probation is given, there are a series of rules that the convicted person must follow, and if those conditions are broken, it is considered a probation violation. Violation of probation can include actions such as failing to appear in court, failure to pay a fine, failing to meet other requirements or committing another crime. Many times, there is a more severe punishment for breaking probation conditions than for the original crime.

In some child support cases, a probationary might be required to hold a job or risk being in violation of his probation.
In some child support cases, a probationary might be required to hold a job or risk being in violation of his probation.

Failure to appear or comply is one of the most common types of probation violation. The probationer normally is required to appear in court to prove that he or she is complying with laws and progressing. Failing to do this is a violation of probation, and he or she is subject to appropriate punishment. Similarly, he or she typically is required to meet regularly with a probation officer to show progress and to discuss issues. Failure to do so also is a probation violation.

Judges will sometimes add circumstances to a probationary period, which might include not being in possession of a firearm.
Judges will sometimes add circumstances to a probationary period, which might include not being in possession of a firearm.

Failure to pay or comply is another common type of probation violation. The probationer frequently is asked to pay fines, and failure to do so will land him or her back in court. A similar situation arises when the probationer does not attend mandatory rehabilitation sessions or classes.

Failure to appear in court is a common probation violation.
Failure to appear in court is a common probation violation.

Sometimes, especially in custody cases or child support situations, the probationer is required to hold a job in order to comply with probation. This usually is asked in order to provide a means of support for the child or children. When the probationer fails to show employment either to the court or probation officer after a specified amount of time, this is a probation violation and can result in prison time.

One of the toughest probationary terms to deal with is following the rules of probation. Frequently, when a probation is assigned in lieu of prison time, the judge will add circumstances to the probation period, such as not possessing alcohol and firearms or not breaking the law. In addition, some cases have rules that ask the probationer not to visit certain places or people. Like any other probation violation, failing to comply with any of these rules likely will result in the probationer being back in court and receiving a stiffer punishment.

Trespassing may be a violation of probation.
Trespassing may be a violation of probation.

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Discussion Comments


@letshearit - The judge your friend was dealing with sounded quite fair to me. I think that too many people with addictions really struggle with getting clean and their could be an entire probation department just dedicated to helping them.

Has anyone ever heard of creative probation? Can you think of some examples of it?

Creative probation is when the judge will come up with something a bit odd, but quite terrible in the case of something like a misdemeanor probation violation.

When my friend was in high school she got caught shoplifting and as part of her probation she wasn't allowed in the mall for a year and had to participate in teen workshops letting other teens know about the downsides of shoplifting. The embarrassment over the whole thing really scared her straight.


My friend struggled with alcohol abuse for years and when he got put on probation it was usually related to something dumb he did while under the influence. He had a really bad habit of causing scenes in public and occasionally picking fights with people at his bar.

The judge he dealt with was really lenient I think and his probation sent him to a rehab facility where he could get clean. I remember that the judge made the probation violation consequences very clear to him and told him he'd go to prison for 30 days if he violated any rules while in rehab. Unfortunately he did, and had to serve the term, but at least he wasn't out hurting himself or others.


I wonder if the judge takes the harsh economy into account when requiring a probationer to hold a job. If the job market is pitiful, it will be really tough on the person.

I have a cousin who recently got arrested for shoplifting. Since this is her first offense, we are hoping that she will get probation. If she has to keep a steady job, I wonder what will happen if she is unable to find one.

I am also worried about her cleptomania. Wherever she works, she is likely to steal something, and that would lead to her getting fired.


I think that if a person committed a crime that had nothing to do with a personal addiction, they could easily follow the terms of their probation. I believe that most violations occur when the person cannot overcome the addiction that led to their original crime.

It’s so easy to fall back into a pattern of drug and alcohol abuse. My uncle got probation, and though he was extremely grateful, he couldn’t stay away from cocaine. His drug use caused him to miss a court date, and when the officer went to get him, he caught him in the act.

During his ensuing prison term, he entered a rehabilitation program and got the help he needed. I think that next time he gets out, he will have a better chance of staying clean.


@orangey03 - My friend got caught with crystal meth, and he received probation after serving six months in a prison boot camp facility. As glad as he was to be free, he still had a rebellious, independent spirit, and he had to live life the way he wanted.

Though he did avoid the dangerous drug after his release, he still drank alcohol. Unfortunately, the terms of his probation required him to stay away from it. He got pulled over for speeding, and when the cop found alcohol in his vehicle, he got sent back to prison.

I’m sure it’s different for every person, but my friend just couldn’t wait to reclaim his way of life. He had been held down and told what to do for so long that freedom was intoxicating to him.


It amazes me that anyone fortunate enough to receive probation would violate its terms. If it were me, I would do everything in my power to prevent going back to prison.

Maybe they think they won’t get caught if they sneak over to see someone they were forbidden to see in the middle of the night. Maybe they think they will just do the forbidden action one more time. Years of being sneaky and not getting captured might have brainwashed them into thinking they can avoid the authorities, even after that one unfortunate incident in which they were caught.

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