Who Has Authority Over Probationers

Probation is an alternative sentencing that does not include time in jail. This is a time that the court can test the behavior and intentions of the guilty party. The person has the opportunity to show the judge that he is truly sorry for what he did and that he intends to do right now. The probationer is under the authority of his probation officer and ultimately under the jurisdiction of the court that sentenced him to probation.


The goal of the judge is to see if the probationer will obey orders:

  • He will be required to report to his probation officer every so often.
  • He may be required not to have a firearm in his possession.
  • He may have to get a job and continue working.
  • He will not be able to leave the jurisdiction he is in without special permission.
  • He must live at the address the judge specifies.
  • He will need to abide by a curfew.

Most judges will not allow a probationer to have contact with the victim or with his cohorts in a crime. It is not uncommon for a judge to suspend alcoholic beverages, too. A more serious offender may be required to wear an electronic tag so officials can monitor his whereabouts. Some probationers are required to do a certain number of hours of community service or to complete a program of psychological treatment.

Types of probation

There are three types of probation that may be given to a person who has committed a minor crime: standard supervision, unsupervised probation and informal supervision. Standard supervision is when a probationer has to report to his probation officer bi-weekly or quarterly, and he has a list of other requirements that he must fulfill. Unsupervised probation puts most of the responsibility on the shoulders of the probationer.

There is no probation officer involved in unsupervised probation. The probationer must fulfill the requirements of his probation on his own. Often the judge will sentence a person to one year of probation but ask that the main requirements of the probation be fulfilled within six months. The last six months he is required to refrain from all types of unlawful behavior. If the probationer does not fulfill the requirements within the amount of time designated, the probation may be revoked.

Informal supervision may be a time of probation that is either supervised or unsupervised without the probationer having been convicted of an offense. The judge may require the person to enter a guilty plea. At the end of the probation period, the case is normally dismissed.

Serious offenders may be placed on intensive probation, GPS monitoring or home detention. In these cases, the offender is watched very closely. Most of these probationers are required to waive their Fourth Amendment rights with regard to search and seizure. They may be subjected to unannounced visits at work or at home, and they may be required to use electronic monitoring or satellite tracking. Juvenile delinquents are often given home detention or placed on GPS monitoring.

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