What are some typical probation conditions?

When an offender is put on probation, all or part of the jail sentence and/or fines are suspended. However, probation is a conditional sentence, meaning that if an offender does not comply with the conditions of probation, probation may be revoked, and the suspended jail sentence and/or fines will be reinstituted.

Probation conditions can vary greatly by state and even by county. Probation conditions can also vary depending on if the probation is court-supervised (informal or summary probation), or probation officer-supervised (formal probation). Informal probation conditions are crafted by the judge, and the judge has wide discretion to do so. However, even in informal probation, the judge will often look to formal probation guidelines to assist in them in setting terms. In formal probation, most jurisdictions have two types of probation conditions: standard conditions and special, or discretionary, conditions.

Standard Probation Conditions

Standard probation conditions are conditions that are imposed no matter the type or level of the crime. Standard conditions generally include rehabilitative terms, such as the attendance to group or individual therapy, submission to random drug testing, avoidance of places and/or people that are associated with criminal activity, the requirement that the defendant not commit another federal, state, or local crime, and when possible, the maintenance of gainful employment and/or education.

Other standard conditions provide for restoring the victim and the community and include payment of restitution, payment of court fees and/or fines, and community service. Finally, some standard probation conditions are imposed as punishment for the crime committed. These terms may include compliance with all court orders, regular reporting to a probation officer or court, home searches, weapon prohibition, restriction from leaving the county or state, and drug and alcohol prohibition or restriction.

Some probation conditions are tailored to the crime committed. These include registration as a sex offender, compliance with a restraining order and/or attending domestic violence classes, and installation of an interlock ignition device for a multiple DUI conviction.

Special Probation Conditions

Many jurisdictions also have special, or discretionary, conditions of probation. Special conditions of probation are generally added when the crime committed was a felony, as well as in other cases in which the court and/or prosecutor feels that it would be appropriate to add the condition to the defendant’s probation period.

Typical examples of special conditions include remaining at one's home unless working or at school, imprisonment or remaining in the custody of the prison bureau or board on weekend or evenings (e.g. compliance with a house arrest program), attendance to drug or alcohol counseling, payment of all child support or other family obligations, or deportation if the defendant is within the country illegally. People on probation that are required to register as sex offenders are generally required to submit to a random search of their person, home, car, computer, or any other personal effects by a probation officer who has reasonable suspicion the offender has committed a crime.