Probation may be attached to another punishment, such as jail time, or it might be the only sentence a convicted person receives. The objective of probation is to supervise, and provide support for, persons convicted of a crime while they are being rehabilitated.
When a person charged with a criminal offence is sentenced to probation, they are required to remain in their community, subject to the conditions specified in the probation order. They are also required to check in with their assigned probation officer on a regular basis, as prescribed in the probation order or set out by the probation officer.
Offenders are sentenced to probation when they receive a conditional discharge, suspended sentence or intermittent sentence. Probation may also be included for persons who are fined, incarcerated or given a conditional sentence.
A probation order is effective on the day it’s issued or, when following a jail sentence, immediately after the person’s release from prison. If the offender was given a conditional sentence (i.e. a sentence served in the community or at home), then the probation order takes effect on the last day of the conditional sentence.
Probation orders can be in force for a maximum of three years, and two or more probation orders cannot run consecutively after one another. However, a probation order may end before the expiry date if it is reduced, terminated early or revoked.
What does a Probation Officer do?
A probation officer is responsible for the following supervisory functions:
- ensure the offender is abiding by the conditions of the probation order
- complete required reports for the courts and other correctional staff
- assess the offender’s behaviour and make case management decisions, including rehabilitation intervention (such as counselling or treatment programs)
- may help with integration into the community, such as finding employment and/or a place to live
- in cases where no reporting schedule was specified and the reporting condition is ‘report as directed’, the probation officer decides on an appropriate frequency for reporting based on relevant factors, including the risk of re-offending, public safety and the need for rehabilitation services.
Here are probation conditions an offender may be required to adhere to:
- Remain at the same location and in the same jurisdiction, unless permission is given by the Court or probation officer
- Don’t possess, own or carry a weapon or firearm
- Abstain from alcohol or drug use (excluding prescription drugs)
- Participate in a drug or alcohol treatment program
- Perform specified hours of community service
- If ordered, provide a sample of bodily fluids to test for drugs or alcohol
- Avoid association with known criminals or areas where criminals hang out
- Respect the defined curfew
- Other requirements may include staying away from specific persons and/or schoolyards
Breach of Probation
Under Canada’s Criminal Code, s. 733.1(1), a person who is bound by a probation order and fails to comply with the conditions of their probation without a reasonable excuse, can be found guilty of a criminal offence. A breach of probation may be tried as an indictable offence with a maximum prison term of four years; or tried as a summary conviction offence with a maximum prison term of 18 months, a maximum fine of $5000, or both.
Anyone convicted of failing to comply with their probation conditions (or another crime during their probation) may have their discharge revoked and face another criminal record with additional sentencing.
If you were charged with breach of probation or another criminal offence, talk to a skilled criminal lawyer at Yoannou and Associates - our experienced legal team will ensure that you have the strongest possible defence.