Criminal Defense Questions: How Strict are Probation Officers?

Question: I have a family member due to be released and start probation, and I’m curious about the system. I’ve heard horror stories of small things causing people to be sent back to prison. Has there been reform regarding technical violations? Are the officers looking for specific things?

Amir’s Answer: The last statistic I heard was that roughly 88% of people on probation violated their sentence. Probation is not easy, but it is manageable if you are organized and on-point with your obligations. While it’s obvious that someone on probation will have a violation filed against them if they are accused of committing a new law offense, there are dozens of ways to violate with a technical violation that will land them back in prison just the same. From missing an appointment, testing positive for drugs, not paying monies owed, not completing a sanction as directed, etc., the list goes on and on. The key is to make completing probation an absolute priority. With the right attitude and effort, your family member should not have a problem completing probation.

As a side-note, I would encourage you to let your family member know that many times, you can have an attorney file a motion to terminate probation early. The general rule is that you must complete all of the outstanding terms and conditions of your sentence, be up to date on your cost of probation, not violate for any reason and complete at lest 50% of the sentence before most judges will consider terminating it.

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