Massachusetts Probation

What Does Being On Probation Mean?

A little known fact is that the probation system was first conceptualized and implemented in Massachusetts in 1841 in the Boston Municipal Court.

Since then, probation programs in the commonwealth –and across the country, have grown exponentially. But whether one is successful during probation depends a lot on how well the probationer understands the system into which she/he has been placed.

The reason probation was created was so that certain offenders could be rehabilitated rather than incarcerated in the penal system. This is important for anyone facing probation to understand.

Your probation officer (PO) is trained to go about “fixing” you through rehabilitation programs and models. Properly following all programs ordered by the court and your probation officer is crucial to your success.

Probation models also entail testing and proving your rehabilitation to the community. In fact, the word “probation” is Latin for ‘to test’ and ‘to prove.’

You may undergo evaluations (tests) during your probation and treatment programs that attempt to ‘prove’ how well your rehabilitation has progressed. Therefore, it’s vital that you do not miss any program meetings or appointments.

Finally, it’s important to understand that today’s probation officer is largely overburdened with a heavy caseload. As a probationer, you are one of a hundred or more probationers that the officer is responsible for.

It cannot be said too much: Do not miss any appointments with your probation officer.

Your PO will have little to no patience for excuses. They’ve seen and heard it all; and as an overworked, rehabilitative facilitator, they are only interested in results. Be prepared to satisfy them.

Probation Terms and Violations

Probation is hard work. For many, probation is a blessing. This is always true if your probation was part of a large sentence reduction to avoid jail time for a serious offense.

Probation is also a desired outcome when offered as a pretrial diversion or “pretrial probation.”

But probation comes with many terms and conditions in addition to the rehabilitation programs required.

In Massachusetts you will violate your probation if any of the following occurs:

  1. You have any contact with law enforcement wherein your information was taken; including …
  2. If you are arrested.
  3. You fail to report a reportable activity.
  4. If you associate with a person prohibited by your orders.
  5. You go to an area, place or establishment prohibited by your orders.
  6. You consume alcohol or drugs.
  7. If you fail an alcohol or drug test.
  8. You do not secure and maintain employment.
  9. You miss a payment or fail to pay your fines.
  10. You miss an appointment set by your probation officer.
  11. If you miss a session, class or meeting set by your program.

These are just some of the more standard conditions of most probation orders.

What happens if I violate my probation?

Taking part in any of the above or other violation behaviors and actions will likely result in being reported as ‘in violation’ by your probation officer.

Once reported by your PO, the court will schedule a Violation Hearing. Your PO will recommend you be surrendered, and if the judge agrees with the officer’s reporting evidence, your probation will be revoked.

The Officer may recommend that you be held in custody or detained until your Hearing. If the judge finds the PO has satisfied probable cause that you violated, then detention will be ordered.

At your Hearing, all evidence will be admitted and the judge will decide whether a probation violation did occur. If the court rules that you violated, then further punishment can be ordered.

A violation may result in reinstating and adjusting the probation or the judge may order that you be surrendered to the penal system and sentence you to jail time.

If you are certain that you were wrongfully accused of violating, then you will want to hire a defense attorney experienced with handling probation violation charges to demonstrate this to the judge at the Violation Hearing.

If you have issues or questions about the probation system in Massachusetts, please contact my office at any time to schedule a free consultation.

Related Articles (Pretrial probation) (probation problems, ankle bracelets, community monitoring) (Appearing in court, BMC, Boston Court, probation)


Attorney Gregory Oberhauser

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Gregory Oberhauser is the ONLY attorney in Massachusetts to be distinguished as an ACS-CHAL Forensic Lawyer-Scientist by the American Chemical Society!

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