Probation Vs. Conviction

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Probation and conviction are terms used in criminal law.


A conviction results after a person is found guilty of a crime through either a trial or a plea. Once convicted, a person is sentenced by a judge, or in limited circumstances, a jury.


A sentence states what punishment will be imposed on person convicted of a crime. A sentence can be a fine, incarceration in jail or prison, probation, or a combination of all three.


Probation is a sentence that releases a person convicted of a crime into the community. A person can receive probation instead of being incarcerated. Probation can also be imposed after a person completes a period of time in jail or prison. Probation can vary in intensity depending upon whether formal or informal probation is imposed.

Formal Probation

Formal probation requires a convicted person to report to the court or a probation officer as scheduled and complete certain ordered tasks performing community service or paying restitution. Informal probation typically requires the convicted to obey all laws.

Violating Probation

If probation is violated, the convicted returns for imposition or execution of sentencing on the original conviction. A court can also impose a separate sentence for the probation violation.


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