What is County Probation?

Jessica Saras
Jessica Saras
Businessman with a briefcase
Businessman with a briefcase

County probation is a type of probation imposed by a county’s criminal court system and run by judicial employees. The probation department supports the court by ensuring criminal offenders receive adequate supervision while they are placed on probation. Department officials have jurisdiction over all of the cities within a particular county and receive funding from the county budget and community resources.

As a type of sentence used in criminal court, county probation is designed to punish offenders who have been convicted of a crime. At the same time, however, the system is designed to promote rehabilitation and community safety. As a result, county probation is usually reserved for misdemeanor and other minor offenses and is rarely an option for violent or capital crimes.

Often used as an alternative to incarceration, probation allows an offender to remain a free member of society while he or she is serving a criminal sentence. Individuals on probation retain many of their personal freedoms, such as maintaining their private residences and jobs. These freedoms, however, are contingent upon adherence to any and all terms set forth by the court.

The terms of a person's probation typically are based on his or her prior criminal record as well as the nature of his or her crime. For example, a person convicted of driving while intoxicated may have limited driving privileges or his or her alcohol use may be restricted. Likewise, a person who has been convicted of drug possession may be subjected to random drug tests as a condition of his or her county probation.

The guidelines for county probation usually require some type of supervision. As a result, the court often assigns a probation officer to offenders. An employee of the county, this individual keeps a close eye on their assigned individuals' activities to ensure they are abiding by the laws in their areas as well as following all of the terms of their probations.

In most cases, an offender must meet with his or her probation officer on a regular basis. He or she may be required to notify the probation officer if living arrangements or employment status changes as well. In addition, a criminal on probation is not typically allowed to leave the state without prior consent from the probation officer.

In addition to supervision, the terms of county probation may include mandatory counseling or substance abuse treatment, monthly probation fees, and community service. If an individual fails to complete any of the requirements mandated by the court, additional charges may be filed against him or her. In some areas, the offender may even be sentenced to jail for violating his or her county probation.

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