Once you are placed on probation, you may be wondering… what now? While your probation came with a specific set of guidelines, restrictions and possible treatment requirements, there are a few things you should be doing outside of these court mandated requirements. There are a few simple things you can do to complete your probation and avoid a costly violation.
Work with your probation officer.
One of the most important things you can do while on probation is to work with your PO. While you may not like the conditions of your probation, you’re still avoiding jail time—and you should work on cooperating with your PO to maintain that arrangement. Working with your PO involves a variety of things—making appointments, being honest about your activities and following advice and recommendations your PO may give you.
In addition to being cooperative with your PO, it’s also wise to keep them “in the know” about your activities. Are you moving, changing jobs or going out of town for an extended period of time? Even if these are allowed under your probation agreement, it’s still worth notifying your PO about these actions so they can know where you are and how to contact you. Probation revolves around accountability, so make sure you are accessible and cooperative at all times.
Stay on top of appointments, treatment sessions and other requirements.
If you have scheduled meetings with your PO, treatment sessions, classes, community service or other requirements—be sure to make them! These are essential to meeting the terms of your probation, and it’s important that you attend. Take advantage of a planner, phone alarm, calendar or even close friend or family member to keep you accountable and on time for all your appointments.
Often times, your probation arrangement will dictate that you should not spend time with certain people (like a co-defendant). And even you don’t have any such provision in your arrangement, you should still take measures to avoid temptations—groups of people, certain locations, and other possible risk factors that could earn you a probation violation.
While you’re on the road, you’re subject to stops by law enforcement. Don’t let them find something that may negatively affect your probation. Make sure any tickets are paid and check that your license and registration are up to date. If there are any visible problems with your vehicle, remedy them now so you don’t risk getting pulled over. During your probation period, it’s important that you demonstrate good behavior in all aspects of your daily life, so make sure your driving reflects that.
Keep records related to your probation in a neat, safe place.
Keep records of fines you have paid, PO visits and other important documents in a safe and organized place. You will often have to present these documents at a later time, so treat them carefully to make sure your probation period runs smoothly.
While there are several ways you can avoid probation violation, it does happen from time to time. If you find that you have violated your probation, be sure to contact us for help in determining your next steps.