Being on probation comes with a lot of responsibility. Simply put, you must comply with all of your probation conditions no matter what the circumstances. Meeting expected deadlines and making sure that you don’t miss appointments is a lot easier said than done. Beyond the obvious ways to avoid probation violations (like not committing any more crimes and obeying the terms of your probation), we’ve offered some lesser-known tips to help you survive your probation period.
1. Befriend Your Probation Officer:
First and foremost, you have to foster a positive relationship with your probation officer. Probation officers have the job of reporting any violations that you have made to the courts, so essentially, they hold the power over your freedom. That being said, probation officers also have the discretion to recommend revoking your probation or not as well. This means that if you have a good relationship with them, they may be willing to give you a little leniency on minor violations. Beyond that, a person’s tone-of-voice changes drastically depending on if they like you. Simply by being on their ‘good side,’ you encourage the probation officer to write reports to their higher-ups in a positive light. They’re people, just like you (and often, they have been through the system in one way or another), so treat them like a good friend, not a scary extension of the law.
2. Maintain A Scheduled Routine:
Arguably the most difficult aspect of probation for people to keep up with is the multitude of meetings, deadlines, and expectations that comes with being on probation. From drug testing, to probation officer check-ins, to therapy classes, it’s extremely difficult to keep track of all of the things that are expected of you. The worst part is, missing just one of your scheduled meetings can result in a probation revocation, and possibly, jail time. Thus, make sure that you decide on a scheduling technique to use and religiously stick to it. The second you get a date and time for a meeting, put it into your calendar, and set reminders for one day prior, one hour prior, and fifteen minutes prior to the meeting so that you’re well prepared. If you plan on using your phone as your calendar, also create a backup hard-copy schedule to avoid any technological problems that may arise. This all may sound like overkill, but when your freedom is on the line, you can never be too careful.
3. Keep Copies/Records Of Everything:
Keep absolutely everything related to your probation in a designated folder. If paperwork issues arise, it is your responsibility to keep up with receipts showing payment of fines, proof that you have met with your P.O., and evidence that shows you’ve attended required classes, just to name a few. Contrary to popular belief, the courts do not necessarily maintain copies of these documents, so it’s completely up to you to prove your innocence should any proof need be provided.
4. Be Careful In Your Car:
Being on probation means that you’re treading on eggshells with the law, and even seemingly minor offense can turn into big issues. Thus, try to avoid attracting attention from police making traffic stops. Before driving anywhere, repair any infractions (broken tail lights, broken side-view mirrors, etc.) and make sure all of your car’s records (i.e. registration, inspection, insurance, etc.) are up to date as well. I would also suggest avoiding loaning your car out, or riding in anyone else’s car unless you’re positive that they have a clean record and are obeying the law entirely.
5. If You Commit A Probation Violation, Here’s What To Do:
If you commit a probation violation, make sure that you continue to meet all other conditions of your probation. Continue to meet with your probation officer, continue your public service work, and continue to pay the court any fines to show that you made a mistake and it wasn’t a part of a larger, patterned behaviour.
Further, try and correct your wrong ASAP. If you failed a drug test, prove that you’ve severed ties with the influencers who encouraged that behaviour, and that you seeked rehabilitation on your own. If you’ve missed a payment due to losing a job, show proof that you are actively applying for jobs to be able to pay the courts.
Finally, consider consulting an attorney. Attorneys are well-versed in the nuances of probation law, so they will be able to find solid defenses where others may not.
Updated: June 15th, 2016