In some criminal cases, probation is ordered in conjunction with, or in lieu of, incarceration and fines. Whenever a court imposes probation in the state of Pennsylvania, it provides detailed rules with which the defendant must comply. These rules can cover anything from limiting with whom the defendant interacts to where she goes and what she has to tell her probation officer.
Whenever someone is placed on probation, the Pennsylvania court places him under the supervision of a probation officer. Each county usually has a probation office through which the activities of the probationer are monitored and controlled. Anyone placed on probation is required to meet with his probation officer on a regular basis. This officer's job is to not only make sure the court's orders are followed, but also to help the probationer understand how to apply the rules of the court. Probation officers can schedule meetings, call or visit the probationer and generally monitor his activity at any time. Probation officers have the right to search the probationer and his vehicle or residence to look for contraband or illegal or restricted possessions.
Courts in Pennsylvania have wide latitude on the kinds of restrictions they can impose on a criminal defendant when awarding probation. Generally, a probationer must check in with her probation officer on a monthly basis or when directed otherwise by the officer. She must notify the probation officer of any change in contact information, such as her phone number, address or place of employment. Probationers can be restricted in her movements and required by the court to request permission to leave the state or make other travel arrangements. Probationers cannot use illicit drugs nor abuse prescription medications. Any probationer who has been convicted of a felony or a violent misdemeanor cannot possess a firearm.
If the probationer violates any of the rules of the court, the probation officer can notify the prosecutor's officer, who will then file a written revocation request. Once the request is filed, the court will schedule a hearing to determine the merits of the revocation request. If it finds that the request has merit, the court can revoke probation and impose a sentence based on the original conviction. This can range from fines, to jail time, to an extended period of probation.