If you are on probation for a criminal conviction, you must be extremely careful not to violate the terms of your probation. Even a minor violation will result in revocation.

Unfortunately, unintentional probation violations are common.

Every probation order contains three basic provisions. First, as long as you are on probation, you are required to “keep the peace and be of good behaviour.” Second, you must “appear before the court when required to do so by the court.” Third, all probation orders require that you inform the court or your probation officer, in advance, of any change in your name, address, or employment.

If that was all there is to it, complying with terms of probation would be simple. However, the court can impose additional optional provisions that may include:

  • Reporting to a probation officer on a regular basis.
  • Staying within the jurisdiction of the court and not traveling outside the jurisdiction without written permission from the court or your probation officer.
  • Not using drugs (except as prescribed by a doctor) or consuming alcohol.
  • Submitting to regular drug testing.
  • Performing community service.

These conditions can easily trip the unwary and lead to probation violations.

Probation Violations Are Common and Costly

A pair of studies by the Statistics Canada and B.C. Justice Reform Initiative tracked what is known as “administration-of-justices” offences. These include probation violations and breaches of bail, among other offences, and are among the driving causes behind an increase in preventive detentions. The Statistics Canada study found that failure to comply with conditions constituted 57 percent of all reported offences against the administration of justice, by far the most common offence. Nationally, breaches of probation were the second most common offence, constituting 22 percent of administration-of-justice violations in 2014. Bucking the national trend, in Alberta in 2014 failure to appear was the second most common administration-of-justice offence, behind the failure to comply with conditions.

Probation violations can land you in jail. The court can find that failure to meet the terms of your probation order “without reasonable excuse” is an indictable offence, punishable by up to two years in prison, or a summary conviction offence, punishable by up to 18 months in prison, with a $2,000 fine, or both. An additional 18 months to two years in prison is no laughing matter—especially if all you did was fail to inform the court of a change in address or other administrative violation.

If You Have Been Sentenced to Probation in the Calgary area, Contact the Lawyers of Bourdon Defence

Probation can keep you out of jail, but not if you violate the terms of your probation. If you have been convicted of a criminal offence in Calgary or surrounding Alberta and sentenced to probation, you should consult a lawyer to be sure you understand what the terms of your probation prohibit. The lawyers of Bourdon Defence can assist you. You can reach us at (403) 474-4143.