When people get in trouble with the law, the one consequence that may concern them most is going to jail. Jail time means being away from your loved ones, time in which you cannot work to earn money or further your career, and separation from everything that is familiar to you. This is why many who are convicted of crimes hope the court will sentence them to probation instead.
While probation may feel like a relief compared to going to jail, it is far from a get-out-of-jail-free card. Understanding what the court expects of you during your probationary period can help you avoid mistakes that may send you back to jail, perhaps for an extended time.
Common probation restrictions
Probation is a criminal sentence that you serve without going to jail. You may receive probation instead of spending any time in jail, or your probationary period may begin after you have spent part of your sentence incarcerated. While you may not be behind bars, you still have strict rules and restrictions to follow, the violation of which may result in the court revoking your probation. Some examples of the terms you may have to follow include:
· Avoiding any contact with alcohol or drugs
· Possessing no weapons
· Paying fines or making restitution to anyone who may have suffered harm during the offense of which you were convicted
· Performing acts of community service
· Attending counseling, such as counseling for drug addiction or anger management
· Keeping regular appointments with your probation officer
Through your probation officer, you may be able to access certain resources, such as finding help for a mental illness or safety from an abuser. The primary job of the probation officer is to supervise you and make sure you follow the terms the court imposed on you. Your P.O. may test you for drugs, visit your home or even report any violations to the court.
Is probation for you?
In some cases, the period of probation lasts substantially longer than you might spend behind bars. For this reason, some prefer a jail sentence to probation. However, you and your attorney can determine what may be in your best interests, and you can fight for that choice in court. Your attorney can also defend you if you find yourself facing a judge for probation violations. Having an attorney by your side can improve your chances of obtaining the most positive outcome possible for your situation.