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How to work with your probation officer

If you’re on probation, you'll work closely with your probation officer. Learn what to expect.

What is a probation officer?

If you’ve been convicted of a crime, probation is an alternative to jail or prison. Being "on probation" means you can serve the rest of your sentence while living at home or in the community. Anyone on probation is assigned a specific probation officer. Probation officers may look like police. They also have badges and wear uniforms. But they’re not police. Your probation officer will be your guide during probation. They will help you understand and follow the rules until your probation is over.

How your probation officer will help you

Your probation officer's job is to work with you - and often your family too. They want to help you get your life back on track. Your probation officer will:

  • Learn about you. Why do you think you got in trouble? What obstacles have you faced? Have they made it hard for you to succeed?
  • Get you the support you need, like:
    •  Counseling or therapy
    •  Help finding a job
    •  Training to build skills
    •  Help with substance abuse
  • Support you throughout your probation. You’ll have regular check-ins with your probation officer as long as you’re on probation.

We know making changes in your life is hard. If you need help, call your probation officer as soon as you can. They’re here for you.

What you need to do

The Court may set special terms for your probation. These are rules you need to follow. They may include: 

  • Drug testing
  • Having your phone, computer, and other electronic devices checked
  • Wearing a monitoring device, like an ankle bracelet
  • Going to a special program, like Veteran's Court or mental health services

For your probation to be a success, you need to make an effort.

  • Take responsibility. You need to accept that you made mistakes. It’s an important part of the process.
  • Be honest. Be open with your probation officer about what happened and the struggles you face.
  • Cooperate. Work together as a team. Remember, your probation officer wants to help you succeed. That’s their job.
  • Check in regularly. You need to keep in touch with your probation officer. Learn how to check in .

Get ready for your first meeting

It’s hard to meet with a probation officer for the first time. You may feel worried or angry.

Remember that your probation officer is there to help you.

You’ll be talking about things that are upsetting and may make you feel vulnerable. We understand.

Be open and honest and go at your own pace.

What to bring with you

  • Your identification (like a driver’s license)
  • Proof of your address
  • Paperwork related to your case (like court documents)

Questions to ask:

  • What are the rules I need to follow?
  • Am I allowed to travel when I’m on probation?
  • How often will I need to check in with you?
  • How can I get in touch with you?
  • How long will my probation last?
  • Do I have to check in at Civic Center location?
  • Are there special programs that can help me, like Veterans Court.

Don't miss meetings with your probation officer

If you need to miss an appointment, you must tell your probation officer before your scheduled meeting.

If you do miss an appointment, get in touch with your probation officer right away. Make sure to:

  • Explain why you missed the appointment.
  • Ask if missing the appointment will affect your probation.
  • Explain the steps you’ll take so you won’t miss another appointment.


Page updated March 25, 2024