If you’re like most people, your first involvement with the criminal justice system is eye-opening. Likely, you have experienced some combination of fear, denial, resentment and defiance. However, if you have pled out or were convicted and find yourself facing probation, your best option is to be realistic about your situation, and work towards repairing your life. Below are some things you need to know about probation.
Understand the Alternative
You may feel the terms of your probation are too harsh, the term too long or perhaps you believe all probation officers are looking to violate the individual offenders they are charged with. Realize that if you didn’t accept the deal, you would be incarcerated. And if you don’t fulfill the terms you agreed to, you are looking at jail time. Do not take that lightly.
Make a Good First Impression for Your Probation Officer
Typically, you will be assigned a certain PO and will be given a specific number of days to make an initial contact. Be certain to get in touch with your PO within that time frame; don’t make him or her track you down. It’s even better if you arrange a meeting sooner than your deadline. Treat your probation officer with respect, and show that you are willing to comply with the terms of probation without problems.
Maintain Your Paperwork in an Orderly Fashion and Bring What You Need
You will be required to have certain documentation establishing your probation and proving completion of whatever programs you were ordered to participate in. If you begin your relationship with your PO by showing you are responsible and organized, it will go a long way to establish trust. You can ask your lawyer for help in any step of the process. If you’re looking for a lawyer, visit a company like Lawyer Referral Service of Central Texas.
Maintain Employment and a Safe Place to Live
While this may certainly be easier said than done for many people on probation, you have to work and you should live where you are not dealing with other offenders if at all possible. Your PO will come to your reported place of residence and may stop by your job if you cannot provide proof of employment, such as regular pay stubs.
You have to be truthful. POs understand that things can be rough for people on probation and not everyone adjusts right away. If you don’t have a job or can’t find a place to live, it’s best to explain your situation, report what you have been doing to change the situation, and be open to alternatives that may be available through community resources. If you’re honest, your PO just may cut you some slack.
You made a mistake, but it doesn’t have to ruin your life. Recognize that probation is a chance for you to prove that you can be an upstanding member of society. During your time, work hard, follow the rules, and treat your time seriously, and you’ll be able to regain your life.
This article was written by Dixie Somers, a freelance writer who loves to write for business, finance, and family issues. She lives in Arizona with her husband and three beautiful daughters.