Many people receive probation instead of jail time in criminal cases. They must comply with certain regulations in accordance with their probation, otherwise they could receive new charges or be sent to jail. If you know someone who is on probation and you believe they are violating the terms of that probation, then you may need to contact the probation officer. This is public information in most states since the majority of probation officers are overworked and may rely more than you realize on the assistance of the public.
Think carefully before contacting a probation officer so you can be certain that what you will be reporting is appropriate. For instance, you should be able to report facts regarding a violation and not be acting on a personal vendetta. Doing so only wastes valuable resources, and if you provide false information, you may be facing charges yourself.
Confirm the Details
If you don’t know the subject’s full, legal name, try to find it out before contacting the probation officer. If you only know the individual by a nickname, try to come up with a good description and a home address. This information can often identify the subject to a probation officer.
Find the Local Probation Office
Larger cities may have their own probation office. Other jurisdictions have a county probation office. Try an Internet search that includes the words “probation office” and the city where the subject lives. Typically, there’s only one probation office with a number of probation officers working out of a central location. It’s likely that you’ll have to call to find out which probation officer is assigned to the subject. The receptionist or secretary who answers the phone can normally figure out which probation officer is assigned to the individual.
Speak to the Probation Officer
Usually you’ll have contact with the probation officer over the phone. Occasionally, you may be asked to meet with the officer in person. Regardless, be prepared to offer any factual information that may be in your possession. If this includes any kind of documentary evidence like photos or paperwork, you may be asked to send in copies.
Follow Probation Officer Instructions
The instructions the probation officer gives you will vary depending upon your unique situation. Follow them carefully as this is usually best for your personal safety. Moreover, it makes the probation officer’s job easier when you comply with their instructions.