When a person commits a federal crime, the judge may opt to place him on probation as opposed to sending him to prison. Parole differs from probation because it offers early release from prison, granted at the end of the sentence. Federal probation and state or county probation supervise similar types of offenders, with the main difference being the types of laws violated or the location of the crime.
Federal probation requires no further criminal activity and even more important, behavior that gives back to the community. While many people take good behavior for granted, probationers can have difficulty conforming with laws. A person on probation may not use illegal drugs, and if the crime was alcohol or drug-related, he may not consume alcohol. He must also remain gainfully employed.
Repaying the Community
The court will direct an individual on federal probation to pay restitution to any victims in the case. The judge may also order the defendant to complete community-service hours as a way to better the community.
Restriction of Rights
Probationers are restricted from several rights that most citizens take for granted. This includes: the right to possess any type of weapons, the need for a search warrant prior to a search of the defendant's residence and the freedom to move or leave the state of residence without the permission of the probation officer. In addition, probationers may not contact or associate with certain individuals, including the victim in the offense and other criminals. Some offenders must complete certain types of counseling, most commonly, substance-abuse treatment.
The probation officer also may direct the offender to comply with certain additional requirements, within reason and based on the guidelines determined by the court.