Recognize that Your Probation Officer is the Boss. Be Nice to the Boss.

You may feel that you have just been given a completely unfair sentence, that the system is corrupt, and that your attorney did nothing to help you, but leave those feelings at the door when you meet with your P.O. Your P.O. is going to have a lot of control over your life now, but are the only one who has control over your attitude. It is important that you start this relationship off on the right foot. As someone charged with a criminal offense, you are not going to have a lot of credibility with your P.O. at first, but you can change that. Treat your P.O. with courtesy and respect, even if you feel disrespected, and show that you are willing to do what is asked of you. It's simple, really: accept that your P.O. has a great deal of authority over your life for now, show them the respect they deserve as someone in a position of authority, and commit to developing a good working relationship with him or her.


Be Your Own Record Keeper.

If you are on community supervision, you more than likely have several conditions to meet, like community service hours, classes or meetings to attend, and tests to take. You prove to your P.O. that you have completed these conditions by turning in documentation to her, like a community service hours log, or a certificate of completion from a class. Do not turn in your only copy of these documents. The reality is that your P.O. is supervising hundreds of cases, and paper gets lost. When your P.O. states that you have only done 30 hours of community service when you know that you have done 60 hours, its her word (and your old documents) against yours. So before you turn anything in, make a copy for yourself and put it in a safe place. Better yet, keep your own probation file, including documentation of conditions completed, appointments and phone calls with your P.O., and receipts of everything you've paid.


Don't Give Up When the Costs Go Up.

Probation fees and court costs add up quickly, and many probationers to fall behind on their financial requirements at some point during their supervision period. When that happens, some people give up. They stop reporting, scheduling classes, etc. Those folks are adding charges to the Motion to Revoke; each violation gets its own paragraph. But the State has an extra burden on the payment violations. The Code of Criminal Procedure says that they have to show that you didn't pay, AND that you could afford to pay. If you are out of work, you can't afford to pay. If you are supporting a family, you might not be able to afford to pay. My point is that you can overcome the financial issues in a Motion to Revoke more easily that other violations. If you can't pay, continue with the other requirements. It will show a good faith effort, and it will keep the Motion to Revoke, if there is one, short and hard for the State to prove.


Community Service And a Good Attitude Go a Long Way.

This part echoes some of the points made in the previous section, but I feel it is important enough to warrant a section of its own. Life happens, and sometimes it interferes with probation. Maybe you miss a meeting or forget to go to a class. If you have made the effort to build a good relationship with your P.O. and built up your credibility, then this doesn't have to be a big problem. You want to create a history of good faith effort, showing that you take probation seriously, and nothing is a better effort that community service. Except for transportation, community service is free. And there are usually many options so you can find one that works with your schedule. There is literally no excuse not to complete those hours. Do more than the minimum required per month and finish early. This is one of the best ways to build up your credibility with your P.O.


Don't Do Drugs or Drink Alcohol.

You will get caught. You will get sanctioned. It's not worth it.