Probation is a type of sentence that is imposed upon individuals who are convicted of violating the law. Generally, this sentence is given as an alternative to incarceration. In most instances, an individual who is placed on probation will not be required to serve any time in prison, assuming that he/she does not violate the conditions of his/her probation.
However, there are some cases in which an individual will begin his/her sentence and then be offered probation. Parole is considered to be an appropriate sentence for many misdemeanor crimes and some felony crimes. In it important to note that probation is not a sentence given to individuals who have committed severe felonies, such forcible rape, sexual crimes against children, or murder, as well as numerous other felony offenses.
When an individual is placed on probation, his/her behavior and activities will be supervised for an extended period of time. Unlike with a prison sentence, a criminal of probation will be required to work and support him/herself, however, his actions will be monitored. He/she will be assigned an experienced probation officer, who will manage and oversee his/her case.
An offender will be required to report to his/her probation officer regularly. In addition, an individual will be required to follow regulations outlined by the court, which will prohibit him/her from consuming alcohol or drugs, or leaving his/her jurisdiction. Each state maintains a probation department, and there is also a federal probation department, which is concerned with the supervision of federally convicted offenders.