In Idaho, the two main types of probation are formal probation, in which a convicted offender is supervised by a probation officer, and informal probation, in which a convicted offender is supervised by the court. Supervised probation is usually ordered for a felony offender; informal probation for a misdemeanor offender. Formal probation typically requires that the probationer pay for the cost of supervision and undergo regular drug testing.
State Supervision for Probation
The State of Idaho supervises probationers through the Idaho Department of Correction. The Department has a Probation and Parole Division that employs district managers, supervisors, investigators, program and support staff who work across the state in seven district offices. An individual is typically sentenced to probation for a misdemeanor or felony conviction in state district court. An individual may be sentenced to probation for a federal case by a federal district court.
Ways to Violate Probation
An individual violates probation if they do not follow the conditions of their probation. Ways to violate probation include contacting the victim, failing to pay restitution or compensation to the victim for damages, failing drug tests, not abiding by curfew and being charged in a new criminal case. When an individual violates their probation, they can be arrested by a law enforcement agency or they can turn themselves into their probation officer or to the jail. Failing to pay the cost of supervision can also be grounds for probation violation.
Penalties for Violating Probation
An individual who violates probation will have a violation of probation (VOP) case in Idaho’s criminal justice system. The penalty for the VOP case is court costs, fines and the maximum period of incarceration remaining on their sentence. For example, an individual who commits a misdemeanor that carries a maximum sentence of one year may have served five days in jail before they were released on bond or took a plea offer. If the individual violates their probation, they could be ordered to serve up to 360 days in jail.
If the individual is arrested on a new charge, they will have a VOP case, plus the new case. The penalty for the new case may be different from the penalty for the VOP case. The offender can request that their sentences run concurrently, rather than consecutively, which allows them to spend less time in jail.
Early Release and Modification
An individual can request early release from probation by filing a motion with the court. Typically, the court considers early release only if the probationer has completed at least half of their original probation period and has not violated any terms of their probation.
They can also request to have certain requirements of their probation removed. For example, a probationer can request to be moved from supervised probation to unsupervised probation. The court usually considers a modification of probation only if the probationer has completed half their probation period and has not violated probation.
Reduce Cost of Supervision
An individual who cannot afford the cost of probation or who has to pay the cost of supervision in multiple cases can file a request to waive or reduce the cost of supervision. The first step is to contact their probation officer. The individual should gather documents to prove their income.
Next the probationer should submit a motion to the court that ordered them to complete supervised probation. The judge will review the motion and determine whether a hearing is needed. If a hearing is needed, the individual must attend. If the individual was sentenced to supervised probation in multiple cases, they will need to file a motion for every case.
Community Reentry Centers
A person on probation is eligible to live at a community reentry center, which are located in different regions throughout the state. Residents can benefit from treatment programs, support groups, community service, community-based employment and other services. The point of living at a reentry center is to help the probationer successfully complete the terms of their probation.
Juvenile Probation Services
Juvenile offenders complete probation through the county in which they were adjudicated to be delinquent. Each county has outreach offices for juvenile probation. A county juvenile probation officer supervises juvenile offenders who are completing community service hours and abiding by other conditions of probation, such as not having contact with the victim.
Withheld Judgment and Probation
An individual can request that their sentence be suspended by asking the court to withhold judgment. When the court grants a withheld judgment, the individual will not be convicted of the offense. The offender is still ordered to complete the terms of their sentence, including jail time, fines, probation and classes. If the individual successfully completes the terms of their sentence, they can request the court to dismiss their case retroactively.
If the individual violates the terms of their sentence, they face the maximum penalty for the offense, minus the time they have already served. The court will enter a conviction on their record, and the individual may again be sentenced to supervised probation.
Substance Abuse Treatment
The Idaho Department of Correction recognizes that substance abuse poses a threat to individuals ordered to complete probation. The Department offers evidence-based treatment to residents of the state prison system. The court may also require a probationer to complete substance abuse treatment upon their release.
Before a probationer is released into the community, the Idaho Department of Correction engages in release planning. This is part of the Department’s reentry services. The Department develops a comprehensive transition plan for the individual.
Even if the court did not originally order them to complete substance abuse treatment as part of their probation, the transition plan may require this. The individual’s probation officer works with state and local agencies and treatment providers to establish services to address their identified needs.
Travel Requests and Probation
A probationer may not be allowed to leave the county in which they live without permission from their probation officer. If the individual wants to travel out of their county, they should submit a travel request. They can do this online by providing information, such as their Idaho Department of Correction number, probation officer’s name, start and end date of the trip, address where they will be staying, travel method, purpose of the trip and phone number. The individual must abide by all conditions of their probation while they are on the trip.
- Ada County: Juvenile Probation Services
- 2021 Idaho Statutes: Title 20, Chapter 2, State Board of Correction
- Idaho Supreme Court: Request to Waive or Reduce Cost of Supervision
- Idaho Department of Correction: East Boise Community Re-Entry Center
- State of Idaho, Judicial Branch: Idaho's District Courts
- 2021 Idaho Statutes: Title 19, Chapter 26, Suspension of Judgment and Sentence and Parole Offenders
- Idaho Department of Correction: Treatment
- Idaho Department of Correction: Probation & Parole Division, Reentry Services
- Idaho Department of Correction: Probation & Parole Travel Request
Jessica Zimmer is a journalist and attorney based in northern California. She has practiced in a wide variety of fields, including criminal defense, property law, immigration, employment law, and family law.