The concept of probation was introduced on humanitarian basis, in order to reduce the severity of punishments that are handed to people with misdemeanor. According to a probationary order, a person is supposed to ‘abstain’ or ‘refrain’ from a particular action. Some common probation orders include:
- Remain employed
- Refrain from borrowing credit
- Abide by the curfew
- Refrain form leaving the jurisdiction
- Refrain from possessing firearms
- Refrain from consuming alcohol
The terms and conditions of probation depend on the nature of the offense. For example, if a person is caught driving at a speed higher than the permissible limits, he might be put on a probation and barred from driving for a stipulated time. However, if a person is caught driving at a high speed under the influence of alcohol, he might not only be barred from driving for a stipulated time, but also from consuming or possessing alcohol for a stipulated time.
Law takes its own course if an offender fails to maintain the obligation of following the conditions of probation. There are strict rules in place to deal with probation violation. The consequences of violating a probation can range from a fine to serving time in jail, and depend on the discretion of the probation officer and the nature of the violation. In case of a violation, the probation officer might want the offender to appear in court. Depending on the evidence, the nature of the violation, past record, among other considerations, the judge penalizes the offender. The penalties can include:
In cases where violation is not very serious, the person is let off with a small penalty. The person is usually fined in cases where curfew is violated or where the offender leaves the said jurisdiction without taking permission from his probation officer.
There are scenarios in which the judge may order the concerned person to be sent to a rehabilitation program or community service. These penalties are usually levied on offenders who have violated the probation by consuming or possessing drugs/alcohol. In such cases, the offender needs to complete these programs as a requirement of probation.
Violating a probation can lead to an extension of probation period. Probation usually lasts for three to five years, and violating it can mean that the offender extends the period by another couple of years.
Offenders are supervised on the basis of the nature of the crime they have committed. Petty cases involve informal supervision or unsupervised probation, and the offender either meets the probation officer once or not at all. There is no intrusion of privacy in such supervision. However, in case of a violation, the judge can consider raising the level of supervision to either standard or even to a stricter, intrusive probation, where the movements of the offender are monitored closely.
In cases where the original crime has been rather serious and the violation of probation has also been serious, the court may award an imprisonment as a penalty to the person. At times, it so happens that prisoners are released before their term is done, but are kept on some specific probation. In such a situation, if the person violates the probation, he may be again sent back to prison.