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New Jersey’s Probation Requirements: What Limited Freedom Looks Like

Even as a convicted offender, there are options to avoid jail or prison time and instead serve their sentence in another way. This is known as probation, which allows a person to remain in the community under a strict set of rules and a system of supervision to ensure they stay out of trouble. Now while it’s not total freedom, as probationers are required to follow a set of “standard conditions,” or rules, it offers people an opportunity to live a more normal life, while on a path of self-improvement. 

Don’t Continue to Break the Law

While on probation, a person must stay out of any sort of legal trouble, no matter how small, to avoid going back to jail. As some conditions might change, based on the crime a person was charged with, there are some standard rules that cannot be broken. Any sort of crime can violate the terms of a person’s probation. However, the most important include:

  • Drug Possession: A person must avoid possession of any controlled substance, including prescription drugs if not prescribed. This also pertains to any paraphernalia, or any distribution of an illegal substance. 
  • Firearm Possession: If the person was convicted of a high level crime like theft, it is illegal for them to own any sort of gun or firearm. And with New Jersey’s strict gun laws, it is most likely already illegal to be carrying.

On top of avoiding any and all criminal activity, probationers are also expected to follow additional rules to satisfy their probation requirements. If arrested, they must report the incident to their probation officer (PO) within 72 hours of the incident, even if the arrest ends with zero charges. And lying about it will undoubtedly merit even worse consequences. Also, as a probationer, a person cannot associate with people who are actively known criminals. This will lead to guilt by association, and break the terms of probation. This also ties in with not being able to visit places associated with crime, like places of drug use or drug distribution. Lastly, the person may be required to inform third parties, like potential employers, of the risks related to their criminal record. Basically, they have to be 100 percent transparent about their past and current situation. 

Limited Freedoms

Along with completely avoiding any legal trouble, probationers must also deal with limited privacy and freedom when it comes to traveling, check in’s and what they do with their free time. A person on probation must check in with the PO when ordered to do so by the court, and also inform their PO if they have moved, whether it be their home or work address. A probationer is also not allowed to leave the state unless granted special permission by their PO, and this will usually never happen within the first 2 months of their sentence. Additionally, the PO may visit and check in at any time, any place, and without any notice. This is a way to unexpectedly check in to make sure all terms of the probation are being met. Additional conditions include avoiding excessive alcohol use, keeping up with alimony or child support payments, and consistently searching for employment, if not already employed. Essentially, the probationer must make good use of their time. 

Have Proper Guidance

If you have been charged with a crime, or accused of breaking probation, it is crucial to have a legal representative on your side. We at Catanzaro Law are here to help you fight for probation, understand the terms of your probation, and defend your rights. Our dedicated professionals have the knowledge and experience to help you every step of the way, ensuring your legal process goes as smoothly as possible. Contact us today for a free consultation and be confident with your legal representation.


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