Difference Between Probation & Felony Probation

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Probation is a sentence often given to offenders who have either committed felonies or misdemeanors. The terms of probation and the consequences of violating probation differ if the probation is a felony or a misdemeanor case. The length of the probationary period can be up to five years in a felony charge, while a misdemeanor can be from one to three years.

Time Frame

The time frame involved in the case of a felony probation period can be longer than that of a misdemeanor probation case. A felony probation period is typically three to five years. It is common to seek a reduction of probation time after about half the period is served. A person on a three-year probation could get a reduction and a dismissal of probation after a year and a half. This would depend on the person going "above and beyond" the listed requirements of probation. Community service is a great way to facilitate this process.

A misdemeanor probation is shorter and less likely to require or obtain a reduction of time. The conditions are also less strict.


A person on felony probation most likely has formal probation meetings with a probation officer. During those meetings the officer verifies where the felon is living and with whom. Where the person is employed and his work schedule.

Misdemeanor probation offenders are most often placed on informal probation with either periodic or no scheduled meetings with a probation officer. As long as they "break no law" they will not hear from anyone.


A report of income is filed quarterly to verify the economic stability of the person in the community. In the case of drug- or alcohol-related cases, required meetings at Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous may be verified.

The felon on probation also is required to allow inspections of his residence by the probation officer at any time. This verifies that no illegal substances or weapons are being stored in the house. Any object found from the list on the terms of probation could result in a revocation of probation hearing.

Periodic drug testing may be required in either misdemeanor or felony probation cases.


Felony probation puts limits on the travel of the offender. Leaving the country or state is prohibited without the written consent of the probation officer. Leaving the country is very rarely given permission. A funeral or emergency medical procedure may require leaving the state. This is more likely to be approved.

A person on a misdemeanor probation for DUI, for example, is not required to stay within the state or the country. There are usually no restrictions placed on travel.


If a violation of a felony probation occurs, the consequences could be severe. The probation officer has the responsibility to bring additional charges against the convicted felon on probation before the judge. The original state prison time merited in the original case could be enforced. If the felony was a federal offense and charges were brought by a federal agency, the prison time would be in a federal prison.

Sometimes the probationary period is extended and conditions are added to the original agreement. Fines are often imposed for probation violation.

A violation of a misdemeanor probation is less likely to merit a jail sentence but it could land the person in county jail for a short time. Six months to a year is common. A drug rehabilitation assignment may be appropriate and enforced.

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