Probation is a sentencing alternative that allows the offender to live in the community under the supervision of a probation officer. It is based on the philosophy that the rehabilitation of some offenders will occur through the benefit from the support and encouragement of a supervised freedom rather than the need for incarceration.
A supervised term of probation begins at the moment of sentencing. An average district court probation term will generally span six months to two years. The term is decided by the judge and monitored by a probation officer. The judge will also set a jail penalty, or hold a jail penalty in abeyance, which may be enforced if the probation terms are not followed.