In short, supervised probation is an alternative form of criminal sentencing that allows a person that is convicted of a crime to avoid imprisonment. Thus, if a person receives supervised probation during the criminal sentencing phase, instead of the person being sentenced to confinement in a local or federal prison, the person will instead be released back into the community.

It is important to note that judges are allowed to place certain requirements on a person that is under supervised probation. Requirements of supervised probation may include the individual following a certain set of rules and standards, such as:

  • Remaining within a certain area or wearing an electronic tracking device, such as an ankle monitor;
  • Maintaining a certain curfew;
  • Maintaining or attempting to find gainful employment;
  • Performing specified hours of community service;
  • Performing random drug screenings at the order of the court;
  • Reporting to a probation officer daily or periodically; and/or
  • Not committing any further crimes or associating with persons known to have committed crimes.

Importantly, if an individual does not follow the rules and conditions of their supervised probations, then their original criminal sentence may be reinstated. This means that a violation of probation laws could result in the person that originally received supervised probation going to jail.

As mentioned above, if a court orders supervised probation, then the person that received the supervised probation will typically be required to meet regularly with a probation officer. The probation officer is an individual that is responsible for monitoring the convicted person during their supervised probation, and reporting the convicted person’s compliance with their probation back to the court. In addition, a probation officer can also assist a person ordered to perform supervised probation in maintaining their compliance with their probation.

For example, a probation officer can assist the person in finding community service opportunities near them. However, if the probation officer finds that the person is violating the requirements of their probation, they can report their noncompliance to the court and have the individual arrested.

What’s the Difference between Supervised and Unsupervised Probation?

As mentioned above, during supervised probation, an individual that receives supervised probation during the criminal sentencing phase is responsible for reporting to their probation officer on a regular basis. Although it may seem obvious, the main difference between supervised and unsupervised probation is that the requirements of unsupervised probation does not include the criminally convicted individual having to report to a probation officer.

For supervised probation, the individual that received supervised probation must keep the probation officer informed of many different areas of their life, such as their current address, their current place of employment, the hours of community service performed, and whether or not they will be traveling out of their geographic restriction, if a geographic restriction is a requirement of their supervised probation.

On the other hand, a person ordered to unsupervised probation need not to report to a probation officer, as a probation officer will not be assigned to their case. It is important to note however that the conditions attached to the probation may be the same. This means that an individual that receives unsupervised probation may still be required to perform community service, refrain from drug or alcohol use, maintain gainful employment, remain in a geographically restricted area, or be subject to random drug screenings.

It is also important to note that unsupervised probation is typically reserved for lesser crimes, such as minor misdemeanors, or for low risk first time offenders. This means that supervised probation may be an option for a second time offender, or someone convicted of a more severe crime. However, probation is not always an option during the criminal sentencing period.

What Is Supervised Probation in Comparison to Parole?

Supervised probation and parole are very similar in nature, but supervised probation and parole do have key differences. The main difference between supervised probation and parole is that parole involves a person that has already served some of their criminal sentence.

As noted above, supervised probation is an alternative criminal sentence to serving time in jail. In contrast, parole allows an individual that has served some time in jail to be eligible to return to the community if they follow certain conditions and requirements. As such, a person may receive or be eligible for parole when they have served a certain amount of their jail sentence that was ordered during the criminal sentencing phase of their criminal trial.

Similar to supervised probation, if a person violates the requirements of their parole, their original criminal sentence may be reinstated and they will be required to complete their original criminal sentence, along with any new criminal sentence if their parole violation included a crime. For both parole and supervised probation it is important for the person receiving parole or supervised probation to follow the requirements of their parole or supervised probation, and regularly check in with their probation or parole officer.

Although both court supervision programs allow an offender to avoid jail time in some aspects, violating the terms and conditions of the early release or alternative criminal sentencing will typically result in harsh penalties for the offender. Further, probation and parole are not always guaranteed as options for every criminal charge.

What Is Supervised Probation for Juveniles?

As mentioned above, supervised probation is reserved for an adult that has been charged with a crime, but the judge has determined that the individual may return to the community if they follow certain conditions and requirements. Supervised probation rules for juveniles are similar to supervised probation for adults, however supervised probation for juveniles may also carry conditions for the juvenile’s legal guardian to follow.

For example, a juvenile’s guardian, such as their parent, may be required to assist their ward in reporting to the juvenile’s probation officer. Further, the juvenile may also be required to take certain education courses, such as drug or alcohol education courses if the juvenile committed a crime that involved the use of drugs or alcohol. The juvenile may also be required to perform certain community service, or attend counseling sessions related to the crime they committed.

In many cases, when a juvenile commits a lesser criminal offense, supervised probation will be available to the juvenile, as the rehabilitation of the youth is a priority. In fact, supervised probation is often more readily available for a youth offender, as the juvenile criminal system is more focused on rehabilitation, rather than criminal punishment.

Do I Need a Lawyer for Supervised Probation?

As can be seen, the requirements and conditions attached to court ordered supervised probation may vary, and supervised probation may not always be available for every criminal charge. As such, if you have been charged with a crime, it is in your best interests to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney.

An experienced criminal defense attorney will be able to help you build a strong legal defense for the criminal charges brought against you. Further, they will also be able to help you assert any available legal defenses that may lessen the charges associated with the crime you have allegedly committed, or have the charges brought against you dropped altogether.

If the charges are unable to be dropped, a criminal defense attorney is essential in helping you receive alternative criminal sentencing, such as supervised probation. Finally, an experienced criminal defense attorney will also be able to represent you at any in person criminal proceeding.