What Is Supervised Probation?

While probation rules vary by state, "supervised probation" generally refers to a court-ordered sentence in which an officer is assigned to and supervises a person on probation. A probationer must comply with certain conditions, which differ based on the offense. For example, all probationers must abide by the law, but a person who was convicted of drunken driving also may have to refrain from all alcohol consumption or get substance-abuse treatment, while a person convicted of domestic violence might have to attend anger-management classes.


A person on supervised probation must report to his probation officer in person on a regular basis, usually once a month. Supervised probation can last from a few months to several years. Probation can be assigned to adults and juveniles, for felonies or misdemeanors, and it can be given instead of prison time or in addition to it. Probation is the result of a criminal conviction, which is public record unless the offender was convicted as a juvenile or the conviction has been expunged.

Providing Information

The probationer must keep his assigned officer informed of basic facts, including his address and place of employment. If a probationer wants to move, the officer first must approve the new address. For instance, a convicted sex offender on probation cannot live within a certain proximity to schools, so his probation officer would veto a new residence too close to an elementary school.

Community Service

Probationers typically are assigned some sort of community service work, such as helping at a non-profit organization or cleaning up parks and streets. If a probationer does not complete her required community service hours, her probation officer can revoke the probation and return her to court.

DNA Sampling and Drug Testing

In many jurisdictions, probationers can be required to provide DNA samples and submit to drug testing at the discretion of their probation officer.


Most probationers are restricted to a limited geographic area. If they want to travel out of the state, either for work or a vacation, they must get permission from their probation officer. It is very difficult to move to a different state while on probation.

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