If you were accused of a serious crime, you may have plead guilty just to reduce the potential sentence. First time offenders and other select offenders can often receive probation instead of jail, particularly if they have strong ties to the local community and the potential to make up for the offense.
Probation can feel like an act of mercy and a second chance. Compared to jail, it certainly is. However, probation is a constant state of purgatory, and the potential exists for you to still lose your freedom. Small mistakes can cost you a lot, and you need to be very careful that you are in constant compliance.
Working with a probation officer
You are generally required to report to a probation officer. That professional will try to determine if you are complying with probation requirements and trying to do right. You will probably have to attend scheduled meetings to discuss your social life and job. You will likely also be required to attend counseling and complete community service, as well as to submit to random drug and alcohol screening.
Many times, refraining from any drinking is a condition of probation. If your probation officer thinks you have violated your probation, catches you in a lie or finds something on a drug test, you could very well end up in prison, serving out the sentence that initially got deferred.
Simple ways that you can violate probation
Violating your probation can happen easily, without you having intended to do something wrong. Sometimes, it can be a roommate, friend or lover who gets into legal trouble. Association with those convicted of crimes or someone who is getting arrested could be enough to end your probation. Unfortunately, not everyone will be honest with you about past, pending or potential criminal charges. When you're on probation, however, what you don't know can cost you your freedom.
Your probation officer could visit your home and find something that belongs to your roommate that's illegal. You could also end up in a violation because of the fallout of your conviction or guilty plea. Something small, like losing your job or needing a new place to live, can also result in a violation. If your boss decides to fire you or you get kicked out of a place, failure to notify your probation officer and immediately remedy the situation could be all it takes to end up in jail.
What happens when you violate probation?
Probation is a period when you prove that you can obey the laws and comply with court regulations. If you fail to uphold your end of the bargain, you could end up serving the jail sentence for the crime.