One of the things most often thought about and a cause for worry and stress for many individuals on probation is the threat of a violation if they are unemployed. Simply put, will I go to jail if I lose my job?

Now as ridiculous of a question as this may sound for normal folk, it’s a legitimate concern for someone navigating the murky waters of probation.

And given the shaky state of the world, and its’ natural tendency to be prejudiced towards someone overcoming a felony conviction, this all seems very relevant.

So to just put things in perspective, on top of now being unemployed, the topper to that scenario would be that you lose your freedom as well.

Does being unemployed violate probation?

If you do not satisfy certain conditions of your supervision program, then yes, one could find themselves in violation of the terms of their probation, no matter how unfair that may seem.

The answer to this scenario though is technically no, but really it is more like not yet, as there is some rationale behind this.

You see, if you have proof that you are actively looking for work, this SHOULD not violate your probation per se. Should being the key word.

One must also understand the urgency of the matter at hand and know that being out of work SHOULD be a temporary circumstance, and not allow it to evolve into something more long term, as there are grave consequences for any individual, let alone someone convicted of a felony.

Of the prerequisites on most supervision programs is to be gainfully employed – now why would that be – well, there are two very basic notions behind this.

1. You need a bona fide, legitimate source of income.

For starters, there are certain costs associated with programs, along with fines and/or restitution incurred that one is responsible for, and unless one is independently wealthy, the typical individual will be under considerable pressure to offset the growing amount of money this amounts to.

You will need a consistent, legitimate (legal) source of income to offset these costs.

Not Legitimate


Like flies to shit, the law of attraction for trouble looms far greater for an individual without work. The odds of you getting into even more problems drop considerably when you have a job to occupy your time, energy, and mind.

Without it, the mind wanders aimlessly. Time is squandered, and your attention and focus is diverted.

Not only that, but you get depressed and despiritualized. You also tend to get into more precarious situations due to sheer boredom, as the mind needs extra stimulation to overcompensate, since the individual with a criminal record tends to crave danger and excitement.

I, myself used to believe that a job held me back and was a distraction, not realizing till later that it enabled and motivated me. It keeps the mind clear and focused, even if it is a shitty job.

With that, the individual has less time and energy to apply to distractions. Distractions that will take one farther away from achieving goals.

Get in bitch….

Your confidence will go up, you will feel better about life, and are opened up to more opportunities.

In the eyes of the law, you are being a productive member of society, with less inclinations that you’re out robbing, stealing, doing drugs, and so forth.


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What is this you say, no faith in you? That you don’t need a chaperone making sure you have a job and are being productive with your time and life. Oh well, so is life for now.

Moving on, let’s touch on the three most prevalent reasons why someone may suddenly find themselves out of work, and how it all affects the situation.


There is really not too much one can do about this, as it’s generally out of your control. I, myself have been privy to company layoffs throughout my career.

One of the greatest times of my life. But I digress.

Maybe you qualify for unemployment benefits. Maybe you do not. Either way, you will want to find work soon enough, however, are in the clear of any repercussions.


Whether the position was not the right fit, you thought you deserved better, or even if the boss man was an asshole, it really matters none. You still need to secure employment.

While this potentially may lead to ire on the side of a probation officer, there really is not much that can be done.

Go get yourself a (different) job. Even if it is a condition of your supervision, quitting a job is still much more forgiving than what is behind door number three.


Okay, you got the boot, and there is a myriad of reasons as to why it may have happened. Tardiness, poor performance, not like-able, whatever.

Bear in mind, if you were dismissed or terminated under the murky cloud of suspicion regarding theft, then yes, that could very well jeopardize your freedom.

Furthermore, the common denominator with all these scenarios is that one should always seek and secure employment sooner rather than later.

Looking at the bigger picture – to be unemployed does one no favors.

The mind must be free of distractions to focus on the direction it desires. Where are you going and what are you doing? How are you to pay your bills? How do you support yourself or anyone you may be responsible for? How will you go about it all?

One must not be naive in thinking that the potentiality of being unemployed can and will be used against you as a mitigating factor in the event you do violate. The threat, whether direct or indirect, is always very much real.

So, in conclusion at face value, no, being unemployed does not constitute a violation of probation per se*, but once again, being unemployed does an individual no favor as they must have a plan or strategy to derive a legal source of income to support themselves along with anyone they may be responsible for.

*Assuming you did not get terminated for theft and are now being prosecuted for it. Then you most certainly would find yourself in violation and facing incarceration.

As always, educate yourself on your situation, because nobody will do it for you. Stay well and out of trouble.

The Educated Felon