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Explaining Probation

In many cases, an offender's main concern when being sentenced is whether he/she will have to go to jail. However, justices have other tools at their disposal when considering what an appropriate sentence might be.

If an accused is convicted or discharged of a criminal offence, such as theft or assault, a justice may order the offender to serve a probationary term of up to 3 years. When deciding if a probation order is appropriate, the judge will assess the age and character of the offender as well as the nature of the offence and the circumstances surrounding its commission.

If a justice decides to impose a probation order, certain conditions are mandatory:

1) keep the peace and be of good behavior;

2) appear before the court when required to do so by the court; and

3) notify the court or the probation officer in advance of any change of name or address, and promptly notify the court or the probation officer of any change of employment or occupation.

However, a justice can impose any additional condition he/she thinks is reasonable to protect society or facilitate the offender's successful reintegration into the community.

One of the conditions that is often imposed is a condition to report to a probation officer for the length of the probationary term. A reporting probation order is usually coupled with other conditions that require to be monitored by the probation officer. Those can include restitution, community service hours, counseling or any other condition the justice deems appropriate. If an offender is ordered to report to a probation officer, he or she must report as directed by the probation officer. Although an offender's reporting requirements are determined on a case-by-case basis by the probation officer, one can except to be required to meet with their officer bi-weekly or monthly.

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