What is Unsupervised Probation and How Does It Work?
Published September 27, 2022
When an offender is found guilty of a charge, the most they can hope for is getting probation. And if they can negotiate unsupervised probation, then luck is indeed on their side.
But before we can talk about the latter, let’s refresh our knowledge on the concept of probation.
By definition, probation is the release of an offender from prison subject to certain conditions. Instead of spending their sentence behind bars, the offender can go back to living their life in the outside world. It operates under the notion of prioritizing rehabilitation over punishment.
But probation doesn’t mean the court is letting the offender get away with his/her crimes. Most probations have a lot of conditions attached to them that the offender must follow. Any violations can almost certainly lead to jail time or steep penalties.
Depending on the severity of the crime, probation conditions usually include:
- an order to pay a fine
- restitution to the victim
- rendering community service
- no alcohol or drug use
- participating in alcoholism or anger management programs
- participating in addiction rehabilitation programs
- weekly or monthly meeting with the probation officer
- submitting to random drug tests
- attending school or looking for a job
- not violating any more laws
In certain cases, the judge may also include a restraining order in the offender’s probation conditions. Offenders convicted of sex-related crimes may also be required to comply with the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act.
Probation also varies in severity depending on how likely the offender will run away or re-offend. In extreme cases, the offender is put in home detention and a GPS monitoring device is attached to their ankles. On the other end of that scale is unsupervised probation.
What is Unsupervised Probation?
Also known as self-supervised probation, unsupervised probation is a type of probation where there is less monitoring and supervision. As such, the probationer has more freedom to go about their life without watching their every move. Though it still carries certain conditions, they’re not that strict. Plus, you don’t have a probation officer checking in on you regularly. This makes it the most lenient of all types of probation.
But, of course, you still have to adhere to the conditions of your probation. If the probation says you need to render community service, you need to do it even without the supervision of a probation officer. Or if the probation requires you to be sober 24/7, you should refrain from drinking.
If any condition is violated or remains unfulfilled at the end of the probation, an officer may file a petition to revoke your probation.
Unfortunately, not all states allow unsupervised probation. Those who do have pretty strict eligibility requirements. Meaning, not all convicted offenders will qualify for unsupervised probation.
Who Are Eligible for Unsupervised Probation?
Only very few states allow unsupervised probation. So before you check your eligibility for such, make sure it’s allowed in your state first.
Since unsupervised probations allow a greater degree of freedom, they’re typically only given to offenders who:
- have committed very minor offenses (usually misdemeanor charges punishable by no more than 1 year of jail time)
- have no prior criminal conviction
- are not considered a flight-risk
- are less likely to re-offend
In some states, unsupervised probation is also granted to those who have already completed most terms of their probation and there is little else to monitor.
Unsupervised Probation vs. Supervised Probation
The biggest difference between unsupervised probation and supervised probation is the degree of monitoring and supervision. Under unsupervised probation, the probationer doesn’t have to report to a probation officer. While probationers on supervised probation are assigned a probation agent or officer who regularly monitors their activities during the entire probation period.
Also, as mentioned, unsupervised probations are usually granted only to low-risk offenders convicted of very minor offenses. While supervised probation is often granted to those who have had prior misdemeanor offenses but are not considered a flight risk. Supervised probation is also typically handed out to juvenile offenders with misdemeanor convictions.
Unsupervised probationers also don’t have to wear ankle monitors while those on unsupervised probation may have to.
Other probation conditions like community service, counseling, and paying restitutions among others usually apply for both types of probation.
What Happens If You Violate Your Probation?
As mentioned, any violations of your probation can prompt an officer to file for its revocation. Most courts have zero tolerance for probation violators. So you can be assured of a punishment.
If the judge decides to revoke your probation, the original sentence will take effect. Contrary to popular belief, you will not get time credit for the time you spent on probation. If you are sentenced to one year in prison, you’ll serve that sentence in full once your probation is revoked.
Sometimes, the judge will also take into consideration why you have violated your probation. If you can provide a valid and solid excuse, they may decide not to revoke your probation. Instead, they may only just extend your probation or impose additional probation terms.
How to Request for Unsupervised Probation
Probation is usually granted during sentencing. So if you think you’re eligible for unsupervised probation, you can hire the services of a criminal defense lawyer to discuss the terms with the District Attorney’s Office.
Alternatively, you can ask the judge during the hearing to grant you unsupervised probation. Judges tend to be more lenient to offenders who show genuine remorse for what they did. So if you can show that you have learned your lesson and are slowly turning your life around, the judge might be more receptive to your request.
1. How long can you be on unsupervised probation?
Judges usually have complete discretion to decide on how long your unsupervised probation will be. But they cannot go below or beyond the minimum and maximum terms set by law.
Depending on the state, your probation period can last from 6 months to as long as 15 years. Obviously, the more serious your crime is, the longer your probation period will be.
2. Can you leave the state on unsupervised probation?
In general, probation is only revoked if you violated a condition. So if your probation conditions don’t prohibit you from traveling out of state, then you may leave the state. But make sure to consult with your lawyer first to ensure that you’re not violating any law or probation terms.
3. What happens when unsupervised probation ends?
When your probation period is over, it doesn’t mean that your probation has ended. For probation to end, you have to comply with all court-mandated conditions like paying restitution or completing counseling programs. When you’ve done all these, you need to appear in court and provide proof of such.
The court will not notify you when your probation is over. But if you’ve already complied with all the conditions and the probation period has passed, your probation will automatically end. You can also call the court clerk and ask if they’ve terminated your probation yet.
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About The Author
Judy Ponio is a professional writer and SEO specialist. She works hard to ensure her work uses accurate facts by cross checking reputable sources. She is the lead author for several prominent websites covering a variety of topics including law, health, nutrition, and more.