Probation – Criminal Sentencing

Probation

This is possibly the most common penalty handed down by courts. It is delivered for all kinds of offences.  Probation means the person sentenced is given a list of terms they must comply with during the probationary period.

Normally this includes reporting to a probation officer at specified times or checking in with the local police. It may also include certain restrictions, like not consuming alcohol or staying away from certain people. More generally, people on probation are always required to keep the peace and be of good behaviour, and to notify the courts or probation officer if they change their name, address or job.

Probation can be ordered for a maximum of three years, but it is rare for it to last that long. Most probation orders last between six months and two years and it starts on the day sentence is handed down.

If someone is sentenced to jail or house arrest in addition to probation, the probation begins on the day that this other part of the sentence ends. This means that if someone is given six months in jail and 12 months probation, their sentence will end after 18 months. This is true even if they are released from prison early. Similarly, probation officers will often tell people that they no longer need to report in as scheduled and this can seem like the probation is over, but it’s not. If you are given 12 months probation, you’re on probation for 12 months, even if you don’t have to report to your probation officer for the whole period.

Violating the terms of a probation order is a criminal offence. The sentence for being convicted of this offence can be jail time, a fine and, of course, more probation.

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