What is Adult Probation?
Probation is a court-imposed criminal sentence served outside the jail after a conviction for a criminal offense. It includes the supervision of adult offenders in the community by probation officers. A trial court judge makes the decision to place an adult offender convicted of a misdemeanor or felony crime on probation. A probation sentence is often given to a convicted offender in lieu of incarceration (in state prison), thus allowing the offender to remain in the community under certain court-imposed conditions.
In addition to community supervision, probation frequently includes a commitment to serve some time in jail, participation in treatment and rehabilitation programs, the payment of restitution to victims, and other conditions. Judges have significant discretion over when to sentence an offender to probation and generally make that determination based on various case factors, such as the nature of the offense and the offender’s criminal history. As a criminal justice sanction, probation is a tool that holds offenders convicted of crimes accountable and helps oversee their rehabilitation using evidence-based rehabilitation strategies.
Types of Probation Supervision
- Formal Probation: Granted by the Court and as an alternative to prison, formal probation provides an offender with the benefit of supervision in the community by a probation officer. Offenders are given court ordered terms and conditions of probation to follow for two to five years. If the offender violates those “terms and conditions”, the court will be notified and they could be sentenced to serve the remainder of their sentence in county or state prison.
- Post-Release Community Supervision (PRCS): As a result of AB109 realignment, PRCS is a form of supervision provided to an offender who has been released from a California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) institution to the jurisdiction of a county probation agency. Offenders who were serving a sentence for non-serious, non-violent, non-sex offenses and would be supervised by the probation department instead of by state parole for a term not less than six (6) months but not more than three (3) years.
- Mandatory Community Supervision: Similar to PRCS, offenders convicted of non-violent, non-serious, and non-sex offenses after October 1, 2011, can serve their incarceration in local county jail rather than state prison. AB109 realignment gave the courts the additional tool of split sentencing. A split sentence allows a judge to split the time of a sentence between a jail term and a period of supervision by a probation officer.