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In the personal and professional world, it is often important to know how to find out if someone is on probation.
Sometimes, a first time offender may receive probation, rather than a traditional prison sentence. Since probation follows a conviction, it is likely that the crime committed will show up on a background screening. However, this does not mean that if a person is on probation it will appear on a background screening.
If you want to verify whether or not a certain person is on probation, there are other ways to do so, aside from a background check. These methods are free and reliable, however, they take time. For instance, you can review county court records online, contact the sheriff’s office, or even call the local probation office.
It can be important to tell whether or not a person is on probation for pre-employment screening purposes, while dating a new person, hiring a babysitter, or related reasons. Many people even opt to look into what goes on a criminal record, when meeting new people. For example, an employer may use background check tax records for anyone responsible with dealing with financial services or large amounts of money.
The following information provides specific details on how to find out if someone is on probation, for free, and what you can do right now to discover it.
Can the Public Find/See Someone’s Probation Records? Or is This Only Available to the Probation Officer and the Convicted Criminal?
There are various ways to find out whether or not someone you know is on probation.
First, you can search the county court website where the person you are searching for lives. You should also search other county websites for any other known addresses, in case the person recently moved, and could be serving a sentence in a county where they lived prior. If you find the record of any criminal cases under the person’s name, you should then look for the related disposition records for the case. The disposition records will include the sentence of the defendant, which would include probation, if applicable. This method provides reliable, accurate information, since it is directly from the court case files.3
However, if you cannot find the court records online in the specific county, you still have options. You can also visit the county court in person, or make an appointment with the Clerk’s Office. For example, in the county of Los Angeles, you can schedule an appointment during the Clerk’s Office Hours Monday-Friday, to view a court file or request copies of court documents. This method may be more time consuming than finding online records, which is why many people choose to consult a professional service to check probation status.
If you have reason to believe that a person you know is on probation, you can also directly contact the county probation department. However, these offices provide a wide variety of services, so it will depend on the specific county whether or not they provide records directly to the public. For instance, these departments typically provide resources for those on probation as determined by the court, health services to those on probation, and further instructions. Many departments also have services specifically for youth, such as resources for juvenile court, health resources for juvenile youth, and related services.
However, as mentioned, not all probation departments offer immediate or public access to their records. For example, the Los Angeles County Probation Office stores central records, like in the case of a free background check (California), which are inactive and closed probation files, not available to the public. While searching for the records of a county probation, probation information can sometimes be sealed, for privacy concerns.
Luckily, there are still other ways to conduct a probation records search. In fact, there are several more methods on how to find out if someone is on probation, for free.
Alternatively, you could also check the county Sheriff’s office, in person or online. Some county offices publicly store their probation offices with local or county law enforcement, rather than the probation department. For this method, you can check out your sheriff department’s website, for a searchable database, which may include probation records. If you cannot find the website, or are unsure if one exists, you should call your local law enforcement. Once you get in touch with the office, you should ask for the best way to obtain probation records in the specific county, and if their office stores any of these records.3
Using Probation Officer Information
While screening probation records for this relevant person, probation officer information may also be helpful during your search.
For instance, if you know the county where the person possibly on probation was sentenced, you can try directly calling the county probation office. Once you locate the right office to call, ask if they can provide information on those who are on probation under their supervision. Depending on the state, the office may or may not be able to provide further information. If they cannot directly provide the information, they still may be able to provide advice on how to continue your search.
After trying all of these free services, and still getting no answers, you may have to resort to a private, online service, which conducts background screenings for a small fee. Keep in mind that these websites are not official government sources, but typically the paid services are accurate and reliable. Ones that claim you can find everything for free many times have inaccurate or outdated information. Before using a paid service, see if any of the above resources can help you find the information you need. If you don’t know how to get a background check, there are many online resources to help. There are several different types of background checks, to help you get the information you need.3
When hiring a new person probation status may be important to you. You may also be dating a new person, finding a new babysitter, or renting an apartment to a new tenant, and want to properly identify the individual. No matter the reason for looking into probation records, there are several options to see and obtain these records, for free.
For example, probation may create tricky implications to employment, due to the current status of a probation agreement. While probation alone may not get a person disqualified from a job opportunity, the crime committed may.
More specifically, the type of crime committed, that led to probation, could impact whether or not a person is eligible for a job opportunity. For instance, certain misdemeanors may be considered disqualifying offenses for specific positions. In some states, possession of drugs, even if in a decriminalized state, may prevent an offender from working in a health setting. Similarly, a speeding or reckless driving ticket may prevent an offender from applying for a truck driver position or another type of special licensing. In some US states, certain violations of traffic laws can sometimes be considered misdemeanors, which could result in probation or a fine.
A background screening is typically required while applying for a job opportunity, new apartment, certain volunteer positions, or similar opportunity. Often, an individual can be denied these opportunities if an employer were to find out that they have a criminal record, through a background screening. In some cases, being on probation can also disqualify individuals from certain employment and volunteer opportunities. For example, there are legal obligations to screen employees working with vulnerable populations.
Typically, professions such as teachers and daycare workers require a criminal screening and or fingerprint verification, since their work involves children, elderly persons, and others, which are considered vulnerable groups. For these positions, someone’s probation status will likely disqualify them, especially if they are on probation due to a felony, sex offense, or other serious crime.
However, it is important to note that there are employment restrictions and guidelines for those on probation, which can differ per offender. For example, someone who is on probation cannot work without prior approval from the probation officer, according to federal law. Depending on the terms of probation, a defendant may also be barred from working in specific industries, such as the medical, financial, or legal industry, to prevent future crimes. These barred industries can also vary depending on the crime. Typically, the probation officer of the offender supervised will contact any existing employers, to ensure that the type of employment complies with any legal restrictions. Sometimes, the officer may even visit the place of employment, to ensure that the location is appropriate, safe, and does not present any severe risk factors for the defendant.
Is There a Difference Between Probation and Parole? Can You Check the Records/Public Information for Both?
While looking into someone’s probation status, it is important to understand what exactly probation means.
Probation is a type of criminal sentence that releases a convicted criminal into their community, rather than incarcerating them in prison or jail. Typically, first time offenders are more likely to receive probation. Furthermore, offenders who are considered low-risk to society may be eligible to receive probation rather than a prison sentence.
On the other hand, parole is when a prisoner is conditionally released back into their community before completing their sentence. A convicted offender can receive parole after being reviewed by a parole board, which can place restrictions on their conditional release. Probation contrasts with parole in that parole is an early release from jail, typically due to good behavior, while probation is a complete substitution of prison time. Those on probation will not have to serve any time behind bars, unless they violate any rules of their probation. If the terms of the court mandated probation are violated, the criminal can then be sent to prison.1
It is up to the judge determining the defendant’s sentence to decide whether or not they receive probation or a traditional prison or jail sentence. While the judge has some discretion in the decision, he or she must stay within statutory limits, or within the law. More specifically, a judge cannot instate probation for a time exceeding the legal maximum sentence of the crime, in accordance with the applicable laws where the sentencing occurs.2
Anyone sentenced to probation is subsequently assigned a probation officer. This officer works with the offender on a personal level, to ensure that they obey the law, and do not commit any additional crimes. Probation officers will have surprise and scheduled check-ins with the offender, via phone and in person, to ensure they are adhering to the rules of their probation. Sometimes, these check ins might have a specific routine or steps required. For instance, after an offender is convicted for a drug offense, a probation officer may have to regularly test them for drugs, to verify they are staying drug free, a term of their probation. If the offender they are supervising has a positive result for drugs in their system, they will likely be sent to prison or jail.
A probation officer typically has other additional duties, aside from the standard check-ins. For example, a probation officer also files progress reports for their persons under supervision, testifies at any relevant court hearings, maintains records utilized by the probation office, and prepares reports documenting any violations of the probation. Overall, a probation officer is intended to help guide and advise the person under supervision, so that they can remain lawfully in the community, without committing further crimes. A probation officer should be a role model, but also an authority figure.
Now that it is clear what probation means, as well as what it entails, it is also important to discuss how to find out if someone is on probation, for free.
While looking into someone’s probation status, it is important to understand what exactly probation means, so you can understand its implications to the offender and society. It may be important for you you to know if an individual is on probation, for safety purposes, professional reasons, and often personal reasons as well. It is also important to remember the distinction between probation and parole, as probation typically applies to a first time, low risk offender.
When you can’t immediately find someone’s criminal record, or don’t want to pay for a background screening, don’t panic, because there are several methods to explore for how to find out if someone is on probation, for free.
1National Institute of Corrections. Probation and Parole. Nd. 19 November 2021. Web. <https://nicic.gov/projects/probation-and-parole>
2FindLaw. Probation. 9 March 2020. 22 November 2021. Web. <https://www.findlaw.com/criminal/criminal-procedure/probation.html>
3Sandvick, C. WikiHow. Searching for Criminal Records Online. 13 April 2021. 22 November 2021. Web. <https://www.wikihow.com/Find-Out-if-Someone-Is-on-Probation>