What is the Purpose of Probation?


The purpose of probation as a sentence in a criminal case is multifaceted. The nature of the crime, the criminal history of the defendant and the offender's potential for harming the community are all factors that play into the ultimate purpose of a sentence of probation.


  • A sentence of probation was imposed for the first time in the middle of the 19th century.


  • The purpose of probation is two-fold: punishment for a crime and supervision of the offender.

Time Frame

  • Terms of probation vary from a matter of a few months to upwards of a dozen years.


  • A sentence of probation is ordered in cases in which an offender is convicted of a crime that is not particularly serious, has a limited criminal record or requires supervision following conviction of an offense.


  • Violating the terms and conditions of probation results in a person facing the prospect of incarceration.


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