A million thoughts race through your head when you are on probation, with many of them being pretty damaging. Paranoia, to name one in particular, is something I have dealt with many times (and still do), as you never can be too sure of whom and what to trust when it comes to protecting one of the most valuable things we have in life: our freedom.

Fact is, the only way we’re going to complete probation is by making better decisions in life, but let’s face it, we’re also human and make mistakes, and often times are asking ourselves… did I just screw my life up (again)?

Will you go to jail for violating probation?

No, not necessarily. Although a judge still has the authority to revoke probation and send the probationer to jail regardless, the severity of the violation factors greatly into whether the judge revokes probation after an offense, such as a technical violation versus a more serious infraction committed by the offender.

Probation violations are less likely to lead to jail time if:

  • The violation was that of a minor or technical matter
  • The probationer had not violated the terms of their probation prior to this instance
  • Outside of the alleged violation, he/she is on track to satisfy all required conditions of their supervision

Many judges take this, along with the terms and conditions of your probation, as well as “mitigating factors” such as family and employment obligations all into consideration when deciding how to penalize someone who has violated the terms of their probation.

For the probationer, they must always know, understand, and be aware of their particular legal situation in order to avoid further complications that may arise and compromise their conditions of supervision, as you may be in violation without even knowing it.

Also, check out What Are You Not Allowed To Do On Probation

What is a violation of probation?

Probation is a punishment and substitute for a prison sentence in a previous crime that was committed by you. A violation of probation occurs when you stop or break the terms and conditions of your supervision (punishment) set forth by the court.

It is of the utmost importance that each individual understands all the particular requests of what the court is ordering them to comply with, as it is possible to break the probation laws without even knowing it. Simply forgetting to notify the officer of your whereabouts, or not appearing for an appointment can now carry heavy consequences that may alter the course of your life forever.

What happens when you violate probation?

One of two scenarios generally happen, with the best case being the Probation or Parole Officer giving you a warning, dependent on how severe the infraction was. Another possibility is that the Probation or Parole Officer submits a formal violation to the court, resulting in a hearing where you must be present. In the interim, a warrant for your arrest may be issued where you must surrender yourself as you await your hearing.


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After the violation hearing concludes, the judge will rule in one of three ways. They will either reinstate your probation, modify it by adding more conditions, or decide to revoke probation and impose any sentence which they may have originally imposed on the offender at sentencing.

Thus, the defendant may be sentenced up to but not in excess of the statutory maximum penalty for the original offense at issue.

One should always seek counsel when facing a difficult situation as such. A criminal defense attorney can present mitigating evidence and argue that the violation was only a technical one to potentially avoid a jail sentence and keep you on supervised release. Once again, when in doubt, seek representation.

What are the most common violations of probation?

It is important to understand first and foremost, everyone has their own set terms and conditions they must adhere to in respect to their particular supervision (probation). That said, some of your more common VOP (violation of probation) would entail:

In Conclusion

The common understanding is that probation, in essence, is having one foot in jail/one foot out. Obviously, for the probationer living everyday life, this is a tremendous amount of pressure to deal with, and the possibility of failure is very much real.

However, and above all else, one must understand and not lose sight that this supervised release is for a limited time and will come to an eventual conclusion for the person going through this.

In order to succeed, the individual on probation should focus all their efforts in making the correct decisions and overcoming all challenges thrown at them during this stressful ordeal.


And for even more insight on just how to do this, check out some of my other popular articles on this subject –