Roles & Responsibilities of a Probation Officer


Probation officers supervise convicted criminals who are released into the community on probation. The PO is charged with making sure that the probationer meets the terms of his probation, such as maintaining a job and staying sober. She may also conduct random checks, stopping by his home to confirm he made curfew, for example, or visiting his job to confirm he's working. If the probationer violates probation, his PO may let him off with a warning or bring him in for a violation hearing before the judge. If he tries to run, the PO will pursue and arrest him.

Probation Releases Offenders Into Community

  • When a person is convicted of a crime, the court may incarcerate him or place him on probation, depending on the circumstances. Depending on state laws, the court may give him probation in lieu of prison time or have him spend some time behind bars before releasing him on probation, known as a split sentence. During probation, he remains under the supervision of the court for a specific period of time. As a condition of probation, he will be required to follow rules set by the court, such as obtaining employment, passing random drug tests and completing community service.

PO Monitors Probationer's Conduct

  • The probation officer's responsibilities include such tasks as meeting with the probationer regularly to gauge his progress, helping him obtain services such as drug treatment and counseling, visiting his home and workplace, and administering alcohol and drug tests. If the court ordered restitution, the PO will help facilitate that process by providing support to the victims and helping them collect the money owed. She might also provide reports and testimony to the court.

PO Investigates Suspected Violations

  • If the PO suspects a convict is not following the terms of probation, part of her responsibility as a PO is to conduct an investigation. This means interviewing victims and witnesses, conducting surveillance and searches, and seizing potential evidence. POs often have punitive discretion and can let an offender off with just a warning if she uncovers any wrongdoing. Or, she can have the probationer appear before the court for a violation hearing, where she makes a recommendation on punishment, which may include imprisonment.

PO May Arrest Violators

  • If an offender violates the terms of his probation and refuses to turn himself in, the PO can issue a warrant for his arrest. Often with the help of other law enforcement personnel, the PO will pursue, locate and arrest the probationer. Once found, he will be imprisoned and likely face new charges related to the violation and running from the law.


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