Office of the Commissioner of Probation
One Ashburton Place Room 405
Boston, MA 02108
Probation is one type of sentence that, instead of incarceration, allows the offender to be released into the community under certain conditions. Throughout the probation period, the offender is required to follow these conditions and may be under the supervision of a probation officer. In the majority of criminal cases where the offender is convicted or admits to sufficient facts, the offender is placed on probation as part of or for the entire sentence imposed.
A victim’s involvement with the probation department usually relates to probation conditions affecting the victim. Under the Victim Bill of Rights, crime victims are entitled to receive from the prosecutor’s office a copy of the conditions of probation, the restitution payment schedule, if any, and the name and telephone number of the probation officer assigned to supervise the offender’s. Your Victim Witness Advocate can help you obtain this information.
Most offenders, once sentenced to probation, are assigned a probation officer for supervision. Probation officers monitor the offender’s compliance with the conditions of probation, direct the offender to appropriate counseling programs, and assist the offender in obtaining a job. These offenders are required to follow the conditions of probation, including any special conditions, for the period of time determined by a judge. Conditions may include an order to stay away from the victim, although — unlike a restraining order (AM 2.5) such an order is not criminally enforceable.
Surrender and Revocation
A probation officer who believes an offender has violated conditions of probation may try to surrender the defendant — that is, ask the judge to order the defendant to court for a hearing. The court then holds a surrender hearing to decide whether the violations warrant a probation revocation. During a surrender hearing the probation officer presents information to the judge and may recommend that the offender serve the remaining sentence in a correctional institution or to continue with probation. The judge determines if a violation has occurred and whether the offender should be incarcerated as a result. The judge may order additional conditions or sanctions other than incarceration at this hearing. If the violation of probation is based on a new criminal charge, it is likely the Assistant District Attorney will be involved in this process. An offender can seek to have his or her revocation status changed or reversed by making a formal request of the court. The District Attorney’s Office is not usually involved in this process.