If you were convicted of a crime and sentenced to probation, you were given a chance to stay out of jail or prison. However, this chance comes with the responsibility to abide by all the terms of the judge has given.
If you meet all of the terms of your probation, you will avoid serving your sentence behind bars. On the other hand, failure to comply could result in the revocation of your probation. Revocation would force you to serve the duration of your sentence inside a cell.
That said, sometimes avoiding probation violations is harder than it seems. So today, we’ve put together a guide to surviving your North Carolina probation.
Understand the Terms and Conditions of Your NC Probation
First, make sure that you fully understand the terms and conditions of your probation. Even if you unwittingly violate probation, your lack of knowledge is not a valid defense.
Your probation officer will provide you with a full written summary of your probation conditions, which you will be required to read and sign. Don’t sign the conditions until you’re sure that you understand them.
If you have questions, talk to your probation officer and/or your attorney. Now is the time to ask and make sure that everyone is on the same page.
Report to Your North Carolina Probation Officer
The most important thing you’ll need to do while on probation is report to your probation officer and keep regular contact with this person.
This seems like an obvious requirement, but many violations stem from people simply failing to report to probation. Should you fail to report, you can assume that reinstatement will not be available.
Complete Your Conditions of Probation
Depending on the specifics of your case, your probation will outline relevant conditions such as community service, treatment programs, counseling, and restitution.
Complete these conditions as soon as possible, and notify your probation officer. Also, keep written records of successful completion.
Avoid Any and All Criminal Activity in North Carolina
While under probation, it is imperative to avoid any and all criminal activity. This includes petty violations. Should you engage in criminal activity while on probation, it’s likely that your probation will be revoked.
Although traffic violations are generally not serious enough to be considered a probation violation, a traffic stop can lead to more serious allegations against you. Take extra care while driving, and make sure that your car has current tags and working lights.
Avoid Travel Violations
While on probation, you must obtain written permission prior to leaving the state or country. Generally, you must tell your probation officer of any travel plans at least a week or two in advance.
However, it’s best to inform your probation officer about any travel plans as soon as possible, as he or she is more likely to look favorably on requests made as far in advance as possible.
Maintain a Good Relationship with Your NC Probation Officer
Your probation officer has a tremendous amount of discretion over the disposition of your case. It’s therefore important to cultivate a good relationship with this person.
Always treat your probation officer with as much respect as possible. Show up for meetings on time and dressed appropriately.
Keep Your Probation Officer Informed
Your probation officer will need to know where you live, work and go to school. If you decide to move or change jobs, notify your probation officer as soon as possible.
Keeping your probation officer in the know is a sign of respect and will make their life easier, so it is always appreciated.
Avoid Drugs and Alcohol
While on probation, refrain from using recreational drugs or consuming alcohol to the point of impairment. You may be required to submit to random drug or alcohol testing as a condition of your probation.
Even if you’re not required to submit to testing, you’re more likely to exercise poor judgment and engage in criminal activity if you’re impaired by drugs or alcohol.
Keep any and all documents related to your probation including receipts, attendance logs, and treatment completion forms.
If you keep good documentation of your payment, attendance to required programs and completion of community service hours, you’ll easily be able to resolve any potential disputes with your probation officer.
Petition for Early Termination of Your North Carolina Probation
If you maintain an excellent track record while on probation by avoiding violations and have served at least 50 percent of your probation sentence, you should petition the court for early termination of your probation.
Seek the help of an attorney if you aren’t sure of your options, or aren’t comfortable petitioning for termination on your own.
Remember, although probation provides a second chance for many offenders, there are strings attached. Make sure that you fully understand the terms of your probation, and follow through to successfully complete the program.