Probation Surrender: An Overview

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After a person has been convicted of a crime, the judge may use her discretion to impose probation instead of jail time.  Probation should be distinguished from parole, where a convict is released from prison early on good behavior.  A probation officer monitors the person, and helps the person learn to behave in responsible and lawful ways. 

Probation is based on the theory of rehabilitation – that the convict is amenable to changing her ways if only given the chance.  Judges recognize that prison is not always an environment conducive to rehabilitation, where inmates can learn to psychologically identify themselves as “criminals.” 

The term “probation surrender” is used almost exclusively in the state of Massachusetts to mean simply a violation of probation.  Probation originated in Boston around 1830, and Massachusetts became the first state to codify probation in 1880.  It was not until 50 years later that other states followed suit – thus an explanation for the unique term “probation surrender.” 

There are many ways one can violate the terms of her probation.  One can get arrested or charged with another crime, fail to notify of change of address, fail to report to the probation officer, fail a drug test, fail to pay probation fee, fail to attend rehabilitation programs, fail to keep away from the victim, and so on. 

“Surrender” means to give up a legal right.  Indeed, a violation of the terms of probation can result in a loss of many legal rights, including jail time, fines, community service, etc.  A good attorney working in the field of probation surrender will argue that the violation was unintentional, a mistake, and a result of extenuating circumstances.

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Last Modified: 05-04-2012 03:53 PM PDT

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