What is Adult Probation?

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  • Written By: Jessica Ellis
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 17 January 2020
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Adult probation is a form of punishment for a crime or diversionary program made as part of a plea bargain. Probation may be granted to juvenile offenders, but the requirements of adult probation are typically far more strict and comprehensive. For adults on probation, the goal of the procedure is successfully create a legal lifestyle that will prevent any crimes in the future.

There are many conditions under which probation may be granted for adults. Some may receive probation in lieu of any jail time for a crime they have been convicted of committing. Others may be released from jail on probation after a certain amount of a jail sentence has been served with no complications. Lawyers may also seek to have clients put on probation as a pre-trial diversion, or as part of a plea bargain to avoid a trial at all.

The circumstances of a crime and the record of the convicted person may determine the exact rules of a probation period. For instance, those who have been convicted of alcohol or drug offenses may be required to attend substance abuse rehabilitation. People may be ordered into specific, court-ordered diversionary programs, such as anger management classes, therapy, or gang rehabilitation.


The major distinction between adult probation and juvenile probation is the importance of self-sufficiency. Most adults on probation are required to actively seek work or maintain jobs as part of their probatory agreement. In addition, adult probation often requires the convicted person to find a secure place to live and report any type of address change. Since the goal of adult probation is reintegration into the adult community, these are often high priorities on the list of stipulations.

In some cases, adult probation may require regular meetings with a probation officer to discuss the current situation and provide updates on job, housing, and general activity. These meetings may be in person, or in some cases may be an informal report sent by mail to the officer from the person on probation. Generally, adults on probation may not leave the area unless granted permission from the probation officer. Informal monitoring through meetings and check-ins is generally more common with adult offenders than with juveniles.

Adult probation may be revoked if any violations occur, whether by accident or intent. If the violations are deemed serious enough for revocation, the person may be required to stand trial or return to finish a prison sentence. Violations may include any form of criminal activity, failure to actively seek work, associating with known criminals, abusing alcohol or taking illegal drugs, leaving the area without permission, or lying to a probation officer.


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