Probation is a sentence handed down by the court for misdemeanors and some felonies. This sentence is in place of incarceration and sets forth conditions that the criminal must follow for a specified time period.
Following a probation sentence, a defendant must follow certain conditions set forth by the court usually under the direction of a probation officer. Weekly to monthly checkups with the officer are required to make sure the defendant is following the terms of the probation sentence.
A one-year probation sentence means that a defendant must adhere to the conditions of his probation set by the court, and check in with his probation officer for one year. If the defendant fails to meet the requirements set during the one-year period, heavier punishment can be imposed.
There are several types of probation a court can order. The most common is standard supervision where defendants report to an officer regarding their probation requirements. Other types include home detention and unsupervised probation.
Probation is often a more lenient sentence in lieu of incarceration. If a defendant fails to adhere to the terms of his probation, the defendant typically returns to court where he is awarded a hearing. After the hearing, the judge may impose a harsher punishment, including jail time.
Typically probation sentences require defendants to perform community service, abide by curfews, and refrain from contact with other criminals. Depending on the charge, defendants may also be ordered to stay away from victims, submit to drug and alcohol testing, and wear a monitoring device.