How to Report a Person Violating Probation

By Jayne Thompson - Updated June 15, 2017
woman calling for help

Probation violation occurs whenever someone who has been sentenced for a crime breaks the conditions of their probation. You can report suspected violations by speaking to that person's probation officer or by calling the police. For the probationer, the consequences of probation violation can be very serious. The violator could face fines, stricter monitoring or even be sent to jail.

Determine Whether the Behavior Constitutes a Violation

When someone is placed on probation, she is given a series of conditions that must be obeyed during the period of probation. These conditions vary between jurisdictions and courts, but typically include such matters as attending scheduled meetings with the probation officer, staying in the sentencing state, staying away from certain people or groups, passing a drug screening and not committing new crimes. Be aware that the standard is not one of strict compliance. It's usually enough if the probationer substantially complies with the terms of the probation agreement, and not willfully sets out to break the rules.

Contact Probation Services

The easiest way to report a probation violation is to speak to the person's probation officer. Find the information by contacting the county probation service or state department of corrections. Larger cities may have their own probation service. The staff there can tell you which officer is assigned to the case. Some counties, such as Sacramento in California, have a duty probation officer of the day who can deal with your concerns.

Speak to the Probation Officer

Tell the probation officer everything you know about the violation, including the place, time and date of the incident, and the names and contact information for any witnesses. You may have to meet the probation officer in person to hand over physical evidence like photographs or video recordings. Bear in mind that probation officers have discretion about whether to consider a particular behavior worthy of report as a violation. Some officers may overlook infractions, such as parking tickets or antisocial behavior, while others may hold the probationer to task.

Call the Police

If you are aware of someone who has committed a crime while on probation, contact the police department in the city or county where the violation happened and file a police report. Give the probationer's name and details of the conduct, including the time and place of the violation. Even for a technical violation of probation that isn't a crime, such as meeting up with a restricted person, you can still go to the police. The police will pass on the details to the person's probation officer.

Call the Violator Hotline

While there's no centralized tip line for probation violators, some counties operate a probation violator or crime stoppers hotline that you can call to report someone who you suspect is involved in criminal activity. Search online for "probation violator tip line" and the name of your county to see if your jurisdiction operates this service or telephone your county's probation department. This method is useful if you want to anonymously report adverse conduct. That way, there's no risk that you'll be called to give evidence if the probationer ends up in court.

About the Author

Jayne Thompson earned an LLB in Law and Business Administration from the University of Birmingham and an LLM in International Law from the University of East London. She practiced in various “big law” firms before launching a career as a commercial writer. Her work has appeared on numerous legal blogs including Quittance, Upcounsel and Medical Negligence Experts. Find her at www.whiterosecopywriting.com.

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