Many people think that once you are placed on probation, your problems are over. That is far from true. You are now subject to the whims of a probation officer, and you need to be very careful to maintain a good relationship with your officer and fulfill all requirements of your probation.
In addition to the obvious – while on probation you should not be arrested for additional crimes – there are many pitfalls to successfully completing your probation and avoiding probation violations. You need to follow all of the rules perfectly and to the letter because if you fail to pay your fine or fulfill any of your probation conditions, the probation officer will try to revoke your probationary status. Everyone’s probation requirements will be different, but likely you will have to make some changes to your lifestyle to avoid violating your probation and getting thrown in jail.
Here are the most important ways to avoid probation violations:
- Develop a positive relationship with your probation officer – he or she has a lot of power over your freedom. If you slip up, your probation officer has the discretion to recommend revoking your probation – or not. If you show a good attitude, they might be willing to cut you some slack for a minor violation.
- Go see your probation officer as often as possible. Be a pest! Probation officers generally have big case loads and they might not be in their office or you may not be able to get through to them on the phone right away, but keep trying. It is your responsibility to check in with your probation officer, not theirs.
- If you move or change jobs, let your probation officer know right away.
- Keep all paperwork and receipts related to your probation in a designated folder. It is your responsibility to keep up with receipts showing you have paid fines and restitution and proof that you have met with your probation officer and attended required classes, etc. If you are not particularly organized, you might want to enlist a family member or friend to help you keep track of your paperwork.
- If you do not own a watch, alarm clock, and a calendar, you might want to invest in these items when you start your probation. It is crucial that you attend appointments and classes as scheduled and that you are on time. Many cell phones can be programmed to alert you when you have an appointment and can also be used as an alarm clock.
- You need to be especially careful when driving to avoid attracting attention from police making routine traffic stops. If there is anything wrong with your car or motorcycle, such as a broken taillight, you should repair it immediately. Make sure all records are up to date, including registration, inspection stickers, insurance, and your driver’s license, and pay any outstanding parking or traffic tickets. Avoid loaning your car or riding in someone else’s car unless you are completely sure the driver is squeaky clean.
As a Louisiana criminal defense attorney and Lafayette Parish public defender, I have frequently fought with judges and probation officers over possible probation revocations. If you are facing a probation violation in Louisiana or Mississippi, you may call my office at (337) 704-2615 or (601) 944-1980 to see if I can help you. The initial consultation will not cost you anything.