Let's say you've been found guilty of a crime, and received probation rather than jail time. Now you have to figure out how to get along with your probation officer.
Failure isn't an option, since if you don't meet the terms of probation you'll be hauled back into court. You're going to have to find a way to make friends, or if that's not possible, at least get through however long it takes.
Even if your probation officer isn't someone you'd normally give the time of day to, these rules for interaction will make you time together easier so you can be on your way:
- Be pleasant. Most people will tell you to be polite to your probation officer, but you may want to take it a step further. Be friendly and generally upbeat and willing to try. There will inevitably be days during your probation when life is too stressful for you to accomplish "polite." On those days, having a reputation as someone who's a pleasure to work with may influence your probation officer to let a technical violation slide. If you're the guy who's just polite, then you may not get much leeway.
- Be on time. This goes hand-in-hand with the previous tip but if you complete your tasks on time, that makes it easier for your probation officer. It also means on the rare occasions that you had too much to handle and couldn't get something done, you might get an extra day or two to complete your requirements. People who are on top of their work often get some slack when they fall behind. People who are continually missing deadlines don't get that kind of treatment. Plus you'll be done with your requirements that much faster.
- Keep written records of everything. If something does go wrong during your probation, then it's your word against the probation officer's about what happened. Send emails to your probation officer when you have questions or problems. If you talk on the phone, send a quick email message to recap what the conversation was about. Make sure to keep records of everything in writing so that you have a paper trail to back you up if you need to prove your claims in court.
- Probation (FindLaw)
- What's Difference Between Parole and Probation? (FindLaw's Blotter)
- Probation Violation Punishment Can Exceed Guidelines Range (FindLaw's Eighth Circuit Blog)