A judge may grant a criminal offender probation instead of a prison term. Sometimes, however, the offender refuses to abide by the probation terms or commits a new crime while on probation. The supervising probation officer will then file a probation violation with the court.
Legally, probation violations do not expire; there is no statute of limitations.
As soon as the probation officer files the petition to revoke with the court, probation time stops. Time does not continue until the offender returns to court and the judge makes a new ruling on the violation, thus starting the clock again. If an offender flees while on probation, he is still technically under supervision during the whole time period, whether one month or 10 years has passed.
Some probation departments have a warrants division that actually searches for offenders, especially dangerous and high risk individuals. For certain lesser offenses, including some misdemeanors, the warrants division may choose to use their resources more effectively in other areas. However, should the offender be stopped for a traffic ticket, the warrant will most likely show up in the system.