After you have served time in jail or accepted a plea bargain, you may find yourself on probation. There are ways to get through probation without incident. The best piece of advice you can get concerning a probationary period is to follow all of the restrictions set on you, pay all of your dues, and be a model citizen throughout your entire probationary period.
Probation is designated by the court to actually help you transition from making a bad choice to becoming a citizen dedicated to making a positive contribution to society.
While the state does not have the time or resources to give people the help they truly may need, the probation system was designed to track offenders as they get back into ‘real life’. People on probation are less likely to violate on probation than when on parole.
There are many ways to keep yourself out of trouble and get off of probation earlier than expected. Take advantage of the following tips to stay successful while you are on probation:
- Take note of all of your conditions. Your probation is assigned to you by the courts. They will send you your conditions in the mail but after that no one will make sure you are following all of the conditions you need to follow. One of the best tactics to use is to list all of your conditions and make sure keep your probation officer aware of any progress you are making. Showing that you are conscious of your restrictions and you are following them proves that you are committed to being an upstanding citizen.
- Take charge of your future because no one will remind you to follow all of the conditions you have to adhere to. For example, many people need to get assessed by a county professional to determine if there is any type of addiction and drug treatment required.
- Be prepared to be drug tested at any time, even if you do not have a drug violation on your record. Because you are under supervision by the government, they reserve every right to drug test you on your reporting dates and on any announced or unannounced visits to your home.
- Show you are invested in your future by bettering yourself. Although education may not be a condition of your probation, committing to bettering yourself will help the courts look favorably on you. If you get a GED, continue your education, or seek out opportunities to grow, the court will notice this commitment. Many of the most successful probationers show personal initiative in matters which are not necessarily monitored by the state.
- Choose your friends wisely. While on probation, and also once you are off probation, do not associate with people that are capable of illegal activity. Associating with people known to the court system or those partaking in drug use or worse, will not leave you in a good spot with your probation officer and the court.
- Search for a job and don’t give up. Many probationers feel like their search for job is never-ending and very difficult because of poor experiences. You should be honest on all of your applications and let your potential employers know about your legal situation. (Your officer will call to confirm your employment so hiding a fact like this is extremely detrimental). A probation officer wants to know you are actively looking and that you care about your future.
- Reach out to solid family and friends for job ideas. Throughout the years, many offenders have found they are successful in their job search because of opportunities they got through people they know. Getting a job and staying employed proves you are committed to a better future for yourself.
- Be honest on all of your monthly reports. When you go to the probation office every month, you are required to fill out a form to account for your activities throughout the month. Always be honest concerning your address, the people that live with you, and your sources of income. Do not omit any information. If the officer catches you in a lie, it can lead to a violation.
- Pay your bills on time. When it is time to get off of probation, your case officer will look at your file and make sure you are paying your bills on time. Any money that you owe to the government must be paid before you are released from probation.
- Never miss a meeting. Your attendance is important because your officer needs to know you are committed to following all of the restrictions set on you. Never forget a meeting, do not be late, and be honest when talking to your office.
- Be a model probationer. It is not uncommon for cases to be shuffled from officer to officer throughout your case. The only way you may get to know your probation officer is through showing up on time, paying all of the money you owe, and being honest. If a new officer opens your file, you want them to see only positive things on the computer screen in front of them.
If you learn to see probation as your final step toward putting a criminal offense behind you, you will be more successful than ever. Following the restrictions set by the state and standing out in a positive light makes you a better person overall and will get you off of supervision before you know it.
When you are facing probation, worried about a pending criminal charge, or may be violated by your officer seek out the care of a qualified criminal attorney.
Paul J. Donnelly is a criminal defense attorney in Miami, Florida. Book a no-obligation, free consultation with us at (305) 757-331 or visit us online.