What is Probation?

A sentence is a length of time a defendant is sentenced to serve in custody. Probation means that the jail or prison sentence is being suspended, and the defendant instead has the opportunity to serve that sentence in the community under supervision, either with or without a probation officer.

This supervision can be “unsupervised” meaning that a person does not meet with a probation officer, but is still subject to general conditions of maintaining good citizenship, following any conditions set by the court as part of the sentence, paying fines or court costs, and staying free of new criminal charges.

Most sentences are supervised by a probation officer, which is referred to as “supervised probation.” If you have pled guilty to a misdemeanor offense, you will likely be supervised by the county probation office. If you plead guilty to a felony offense, you’ll be supervised by the Tennessee Department of Corrections Office of Probation and Parole (TDOC BOPP). TDOC has offices throughout the state; contact information for each office can be found here: https://www.tn.gov/correction/cs/field-office-directory.html

Each individual on supervision is assigned a probation officer. Probation officers are responsible for ensuring a defendant complies with the conditions of his or her sentence in addition to the rules of probation. The rules for felony probation include:

  1. Obeying the laws of the United States and Tennessee, as well as municipal ordinances;
  2. Reporting all new arrests including traffic violations immediately to your probation officer;
  3. Not possessing/transporting/receiving/owning/shipping any firearms or ammunition;
  4. Working at a lawful occupation and supporting any dependents if any to the best of your ability;
  5. Informing your probation officer prior to changing your residence, and securing your probation officer’s approval prior to leaving your county or state of residence;
  6. Allowing your probation officer to visit your home, employment site, carrying out all lawful instructions from your probation officer, and reporting to your probation officer as instructed;
  7. Allowing probation to search – without a warrant – your person, vehicle, property, or place of residence. These searches can be conducted by BOPP or law enforcement.
  8. Not using intoxicants (beer, wine, etc.) to excess, and not visiting establishments “whose primary purpose is to sell alcoholic beverages (bars, taverns, clubs, etc.)”;
  9. Not using or possessing any illegal drugs;
  10. Submitting to random drug screens;
  11. Paying probation fees, and any fines, costs, or restitution assessed by the court;
  12. Following any special conditions imposed by the court. these conditions can include compliance with alcohol or drug treatment, completing a mental health evaluation, attending classes, etc.

Every case is different; judges can impose any additional conditions to the specialized rules of probation to fit a particular situation. If a judge orders a specific condition as part of supervision, it must be followed.

If you have been sentenced to serve a sentence in the community on probation, be sure to have a good understanding of the conditions you must abide by during your sentence.

State Probation Rules

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