How to Find Out If Someone Is on Probation?

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A background check, criminal registries and a probation office are some ways to find out if a particular person is on probation.

Probation is a common sentence given to keep non-violent offenders out of overcrowded jails and prisons. They are allowed to follow a program of rehabilitation and restoration as active members of the community by holding a job and doing community service. While the person on probation has a right to privacy to not publicly announce his offenses, employers, landlords and other concerned parties have a right to know who they are living and working with.

Conduct a cursory background check online. Several websites provide services that will reveal any criminal record and probationary status of a potential employee or roommate. Some of these services have limits as to what records they are allowed to access. They may have a disclaimer that the search is not 100 percent accurate because of their limitations on access to all records. They may charge $19.99 to $49.99 per search. If the search comes up positive that the person is on probation it is money well spent. If the result is negative it does not remove all possible doubt.

Conduct a more complete check of a person's background with a live scan. If you are considering hiring an employee, renting an apartment or qualifying someone for immigration or adoption, you may ask them to voluntarily submit to a live scan. They can search online for the nearest testing center and set up an appointment. Digitally scanned fingerprints allow the center to identify criminal record within 72 hours through the Department of Justice.

Request the information on an application under the penalty of perjury. A person on probation can be at risk of violating their probation if they perjure themselves and lie on an application. Informal contracts can state that lack of honesty on the application may result in immediate termination. Because holding a job is usually one of the terms of probation, lying on the application puts the offender at risk. This method is quick and without cost. If a person is on probation they will probably tell you and explain the circumstances.

Check the National Directory for Sex offenders or Narcotics offenders. With the full name of the person, city of residence and age or birthday you can tell if they are a registered sex or drug offender. Offenders are required by law to report their residence with the local police and to be include in the data base available for anyone to look up the information. Failure to register with the local police is a violation of probation.

Contact the local probation officer's office in your city or community. They can tell you if the person in question is on their case load. Probation officers also will visit workplaces and residences of people on probation to inform the employer or landlord of the nature of the case and the potential risks involved if any in employing or housing the person on probation.


About the Author

Stephen Saylor is a bilingual educator and translator who has been writing since 2005. He has contributed articles to websites such as and XtremeMusic. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish from Michigan State University and a Master of Arts in education from San Diego State University.