Unsupervised Probation—A Less Stringent Form of Probation

unsupervised probation

Unsupervised probation is informal probation. First-time or minor offenders are mainly subjected to this probation, and the offenders committing further misdemeanors can be subjected to the same probation based on the judge’s discretion.

Probation is typically established during initial sentencing or ordered by a judge during a trial based on a particular offense.

The objective of unsupervised probation is to check on the offender from not committing any other offense. 

What is meant by unsupervised probation?

Unsupervised probation is also known as administrative probation and is completely informal. The probation officer does not require to supervise, meet, or inspect a home or workplace at regular intervals. So, unsupervised probation is less stringent than supervised probation. 

Typically, if a person fails to comply with the terms of a probationary order, the court will revoke the order and sentence the violator to imprisonment. However, In cases of unsupervised probation, It is not common for courts to address the breaches as there are no probation officers to track the criminal’s offenses through regular meetings. 

Persons sentenced to unsupervised probation are not subject to all normal probation conditions that apply to supervised probation officers.

In addition to the absence of a probation officer, unsupervised protection observers are exempt from the following conditions: 

  • To not travel outside the country without obtaining permission from the supervising authority
  • Pay the required supervision fee
  • To inform probation officer of failure to obtain employment
  • Regularly reporting to the probationary officer at the given intervals
  • Warrantless searches by probation officers and  law enforcement agencies
  • To not use or possess any substance if not expressly restricted by the court of law.

Unsupervised probation eligibility

Ultimately, it’s up to the court to determine who is eligible, what kind of probation can be sentenced, and the conditions for probation. Judges can order probation for those offenders who are believed not to commit future offenses. 

Individuals are eligible regardless of whether they were convicted of a felony or misdemeanor.

The conditions of probation, including supervision by a probation officer, depend on the type and severity of the crime committed. At the judge’s discretion, some states allow unsupervised probation, usually with no records of past crimes, including felony crimes.

The court may sentence these criminals to a specified number of years of unsupervised probation, and the judge can change their judgment. Unsupervised probation is usually given to criminals who have committed misdemeanors and have been in prison for up to a year in the country.

How does unsupervised probation work?

During unsupervised probation, a person is not subject to strict supervision but may be subject to certain conditions based on court decisions. Unsupervised probation is a mechanism for managing subsequent crimes that a criminal may commit in the future. 

Judges use it to instill fear of imprisonment in criminals so that they do not repeat crimes in the future. Persons charged with crimes related to substance or alcohol abuse are prohibited from using illegal drugs or alcohol and may be tested for drugs by court order.

The rules of probation are significantly less severe in an unsupervised one rather than the one in a supervised form.

Consequences of unsupervised probation

A person subjected to unsupervised probation will have to go through the court’s restrictions on him. There are certain consequences of unsupervised probation resulting from a court order, which includes:

  • Community service requirements (volunteering)
  • Drug testing
  • Spreading awareness against the use of drugs and alcohol 
  • Paying penalties laid by the court
  • Going through Educational courses
  • Therapy or anger management
  • Issue a court order for complying with some requirements
  • Not committing the further violation of laws

Besides the restrictions, there are certain benefits of unsupervised probation. These are:- 

  • The offender does not have to report to the probation officer, but he/she has to report to the court directly at regular intervals.
  • The offender is not required to pay supervision fees
  • Less supervision of compliance with court orders
  • Fewer drug tests at regular intervals
  • The probationary orders of a person can be terminated earlier if the person is complying totally with the terms of the probationary orders. 

The violation of unsupervised probation order by the court may lead to:

  • Revocation of the court order for unsupervised probation,
  • Issue an arrest warrant against the violator,
  • Cancellation of bail,
  • Hold the violator in contempt of court order and sentence him/her to imprisonment,
  • Modify the terms of probation to a more stringent one,
  • Modify the probation order to comply with the additional requirement,
  • Change the unsupervised probation into supervised probation, or
  • Sentence the violator to imprisonment,
  • Lay a heavy penalty on the violator.

Unsupervised probation vs. supervised probation

Unsupervised probation

  • Unsupervised probation is often referred to as informal probation or misdemeanor probation. 
  • Judges consider unsupervised probation for low-risk offenders charged with misdemeanors. 
  • The first-time offenders have a better chance of getting into unsupervised probation, repeat offenders can also be eligible for misdemeanor probation at the judge’s discretion.
  • The offenders don’t have to report regularly to the probation officer. But the judge may order the person to appear in court periodically to report to the judge about the person’s progress. 
  • Failure to appear in court will be considered a violation of probation. The judge will issue a warrant for the person’s arrest for the breach of the order.

Supervised probation

  • Supervised probation is more serious. 
  • The offender is subjected to many restrictions and will be under the supervision of a probation officer. It is generally ordered against an offender who is involved with offenses of serious nature. 
  • Any violation of the terms of probation will result in the revocation of probation and sentencing the person to imprisonment.
  • It involves regular meetings, letting probation officers inspect a home or workplace, search or seize property, etc.


Unsupervised probations are meant to curb the offender from undertaking illegal activities for a temporary period as a reformatory practice so that he doesn’t repeat it. It could lay a fear of imprisonment in the offender’s mind without laying heavy restrictions on him.

In such probation, the judge assesses the prior convictions and the current charges on the accused to determine if unsupervised probation can be granted.

Unsupervised probation is self-monitoring probation. If the court is sentenced to imprisonment and ordered to release unsupervised parole, the person is released and does not need to report to the probation officer. Judges can order the same release conditions as regular probation.

As per US criminal justice system, it is all a judge’s discretionary-based mechanism to decide on the kind of probation and its period.


What will be the period of unsupervised probation?

The period of unsupervised probation is to be decided at the judge’s discretion based on the gravity of the offense committed.

How violation of probation is committed?

The violation of probation is committed in the following circumstances;-
1: Missing appointment with a probation officer
2: Missing a court hearing. 
3: Failing to pay fines or restitution
4: Not completing community service
5: Visiting certain places or people
6: Committing another offense

How many types of violation of probation (VOP) are there?

The violation of probation can be committed in two forms:-
1: Technical violations, like, Missing an appointment with a probation officer, Missing a court hearing, Failing to pay fines or restitution,
2: Substantive violation, like, Committing the subsequent offense.

What is the difference between parole and probation?

Parole is granted as a conditional release to a prisoner already serving a sentence in jail, while probation is an initial sentence pronounced by a judge for a temporary period rather than the full sentence during a trial based on an offense to stop the offender from committing further crime.

Which probation is better, i.e., unsupervised or supervised?

Unsupervised probation is better because it is a bit more lenient and is standard practice for treating individuals with misdemeanors humanely.

How does unsupervised probation affects the life of an individual?

Unsupervised probation is a reformatory form of punishment that can inflict punishment simultaneously without inhumane treatment giving a chance to the offender to repent his mistake.