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Differences Between Supervised & Unsupervised Probation

Interviewer: These programs always seem to involve probation for the most part, right?

Lauren Scardella: They do. It’s just a matter of whether the probation is supervised or unsupervised.

Interviewer: Let’s shift to talking about probation. What are the different levels of probation and what’s involved with them?

Lauren Scardella: In municipal court, probation is usually not supervised, meaning that the defendant doesn’t have to meet with a probation officer, so the probation for them might simply mean you can’t get in trouble again. Don’t come to the attention of the court again for any reason. The judge can set certain terms of probation, like having certain types of evaluations done or doing community service, and they would have to provide proof of having completed those terms in order for them to be considered to have successfully completed the whole probation and not be subject to a violation of probation. In municipal court, probation is less about being supervised and more about completing the terms of probation.

In Superior Court probation is supervised. There’s a probation department in every county, and the defendants have to meet with probation officers. They’re subject to home visits, work visits, and general drop‑ins. They are subject to drug screenings, randomly.

Interviewer: They can be called in to take a random drug test?

Lauren Scardella: Yes, they can be called in to take random drug tests. They might show up for an appointment with their probation officer and the probation officer hands them a cup and says, “Okay, today we’re going to do a drug test.” It’s more formal. The probation officer usually arranges the other conditions of their probation, so if they need to do a substance abuse evaluation, it’s done through the probation department. They have their own evaluator, and they will set them up with an appointment for that. It’s more intensive than in municipal court.

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