What Happens on Juvenile Probation?

Juvenile cases often end in some type of probation, so if your child is going through the juvenile criminal justice system, it is worth taking the time to learn what can be required as a condition of juvenile probation.

If your child is considering resolving the case in a way that involves probation, the court and the state are given relatively wide latitude in determining what those conditions may be.  First of all, your child would be assigned to a Probation Officer.  This officer will be the one your child will report to on a regular basis.

When your child agrees to do probation, he or she is given a copy of the terms.  It is very important that your child get these terms in writing and adhere to them.  There are a few terms that are particularly common.  Community service is almost always required by law, so your child will likely be required to complete a certain number of community service hours. The probation officer can give you guidance on the specific places that community service is acceptable, but usually it needs to be in a place related to the alleged offense, if possible.  For example, if the offense is alcohol-related, your child may be asked to spend a certain number of hours serving at a center for victims of drunk driving.

Terms of probation may also include a curfew imposed by the court, particularly strict school attendance, counseling, or participation in certain clubs or activities outside of school.  If someone was physically hurt or property was damaged or stolen, probation may require your child to pay restitution to offset any costs or losses incurred by the alleged victim.

In some cases, particularly alcohol and drug-related offenses, your child may face suspension of his or her driver’s license.  If they do face such a suspension, it will not be for more than one year.

Finally, parents are expected to play a role in their child’s probation.  Though the parent obviously isn’t on probation – it might be hard for the parent not to feel this way.  Parents are charged with insuring that their children comply and, in some instances, even reporting violations.

This is just an overview of some common terms of probation, and the state and the court sometimes get very creative in determining those terms, but it should give you a good idea of what juvenile probation typically looks like.

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