FAQs - About Probation

What does it mean to be on probation?

Probation is one of the judge’s sentencing options. After a juvenile/adult offender is adjudicated/convicted of a misdemeanor or felony offense, the judge imposes a sentence. This sentence can consist of incarceration, probation with or without incarceration and for felony offenses, imprisonment. Probation consists of a variety of terms and conditions that are Court-imposed with which the offender must comply or risk returning to the Court of jurisdiction for a violation of probation. Probation affords the offender an opportunity to alter his/her criminal behavior while remaining free in the community. The primary role of the probation officer is to ensure that the offender complies with the Court-ordered terms and conditions of probation.

The criminal justice system is comprised of three components: law enforcement, judicial and corrections. The Probation Agency is part of the corrections component and its main goal is to promote community safety. The Probation Agency accomplishes this goal by providing balanced services to the victim, offender and community utilizing collaborative partnerships to effect positive change in youths, adults and families under our jurisdiction.

In California, probation is a function of agencies funded at the county level where offenders are supervised in the community by a probation officer. Parole is a state function and is under the jurisdiction of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) where offenders are supervised by parole agents. Recent changes to sentencing laws under the 2011 Public Safety Realignment Act have resulted in some offenders being released from prison to the county level on Post Release Community Supervision (PRCS) and local felony jail sentences for some crimes which were previously state prison commitments. These offenders are supervised (when ordered by the Court) in the community by probation officers. The guidelines for which offenders are supervised by probation or parole are set forth in Assembly Bill 109.

Probation officers are responsible for contacting crime victims to inform them of their rights and the Court process. Furthermore, the officer collects pertinent data from the victim that allows the Court to order restitution. Probation officers collect restitution in a timely manner in an effort to compensate victims for their losses. In many cases, probation officers are required to ensure that victims are protected from any further emotional/physical harm from the offender.

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