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Published on 2/3/2022, 5:36:00 PM

Unsupervised Probation vs Supervised Probation in Maryland explained

In Maryland Judges have the power to suspend jail time over a Defendant's head and place them on a period of probation with conditions that the Court considers "proper". Practically, there are two different types of probation in Maryland, Supervised and Unsupervised.

While the conditions of these probations may be similar, they come with distinctly different requirements for a probationer. Supervised probation requires reporting to an agent, or agency. Un-supervised probation does not involve any reporting; however, a person is still technically on a probation and can be brought back to Court for a violation. Supervised and Unsupervised probation are both dipositions that are common as a part of a criminal sentence.

What is Unsupervised Probation in Maryland?

Maryland has two different kinds of probation, supervised and unsupervised.

Unsupervised probation is a form of probation in Maryland where a Defendant is required to adhere to conditions of probation outlined by a Judge; however, the Defendant would not be required to report to a probation agent.

Typically, this means that a person is not "supervised" in the community, but would still be subject to a probation violation upon complaint by a State's Attorney, or sua sponte by a Judge. This is the lowest level of supervision for Maryland probations.

Unsupervised probations are typically awarded in misdemeanor cases, or sometimes in felony cases where a Judge does not believe a person poses much of a risk of re-offending.

While a person can still violate an unsupervised probation, they are not filed as often as there is no dedicated probation officer managing their case. When receiving unsupervised probation, a person does not always receive a long form probation order.

Even if placed on an unsupervised probation, a person can be subject to standard conditions, or even special conditions including completing treatment, paying restitution, or staying away from another person.

What is Supervised Probation in Maryland? Do I have a Probation Officer?

Supervised probation in Maryland is commonly required as a part of a sentence in Maryland, and consists of supervision of a Defendant by a probation officer from Parole and Probation, or a diversion program like the Alternative Community Services Program.

While on supervised probation, a person may have to report weekly, perform community service, and keep their probation officer abreast of any changes in their living situation. Supervised probation rules vary by county as well. Howard County Probation might be different than Anne Arundel County Probation.

In most supervised probation cases, standard conditions apply along with special conditions depending on the type of case. Supervised probation lasts for a specified length, decided upon by the Judge in a case and overseen by a probation officer.

For a District Court case, the maximum length for a supervised probation is three (3) years. For a Circuit Court case, the maximum length for a supervised probation is five (5) years. Probation can be extended for an additional five years, but only for restitution purposes. You might still have to report to a probation officer during this period.

How is unsupervised probation different from supervised probation?

What makes Unsupervised probation different than supervised probation is the reporting requirements. On an unsupervised probation, a probationer does not need to report to any probation agent.

If a person is on a supervised probation, they would need to report to a probation agent who will monitor them in the community while they are on probation.

The Department of Parole and Probation in Maryland

The Department of Parole and Probation is a Maryland State agency housed within the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services. The Department of Parole and Probation has multiple offices throughout the State, with one or more offices located in each County in Maryland.

The Department of Parole and Probation employs probation officers who are assigned to monitor specific cases.

What is the job of a probation officer?

A Probation Officer's job is to make sure that a person is following the conditions of their probation order. This function is called "community supervision". Probation officers are required to file reports and violations if a person incurs a new offense, or violates another condition of their probation.

Probation Officers in Maryland typically maintain contact with their probationers by telephone, and by conducting in office visits.

A parole officer and a probation officer are often the "same person"; however, parole conditions are often different than probation conditions. A probation officer would report a violation to a Court, and a parole officer would report violations to the parole board.

What is a "Probation Order"

A probation order is entered by a Judge on the date of a person's sentencing. It contains all of the information and conditions for a person's probation. A sample of a probation order is hosted on the Maryland's Courts website here

On a Judge's probation they will order when a probation begins, the conditions that will apply, and who a person's supervising authority will be. The Defendant is required to sign this order, and present a copy to the Office of Parole and Probation for the county where their probation will be supervised.

What does "Suspended time" really mean?

Hand drawn guillotineSuspended time is essentially a jail sentence placed upon a person that is frozen in its execution. Although gruesome, I often refer clients to a metaphorical guillotine, an execution device utilized by the French during the French revolution.

Just like the guillotine's blade, a suspended sentence is hanging over a person during the course of their probation. If a person violates probation, the blade drops and the sentence is "executed". Although practically a probation violation is more complicated than the dropping of a guillotine, it makes for an easy to understand illustration of what suspended time really is.

If you'd like to know more about probation violations, check out our site.

What are "standard conditions?"

Standard conditions of probation are as follows:

  1. Report as directed and follow your supervising agent's lawful instructions.

  2. Work and/or attend school regularly as directed and provide verification to your supervising agent.

  3. Get permission from your supervising agent before changing your home address, changing your job, and/or leaving the State of Maryland. Additional Comments:

  4. Obey all laws.

  5. Notify your supervising agent at once if charged with a criminal offense, including jailable traffic offenses.

  6. Get permission from the Court before owning, possessing, using, or having under your control any dangerous weapon or firearm of any description.

  7. Permit your supervising agent to visit your home.

  8. Do not illegally possess, use, or sell any narcotic drug, controlled substance, counterfeit substance, or related paraphernalia.

  9. Appear in court when notified to do so.

  10. Pay all fines, costs, restitution, and fees as ordered by the Court or as directed by your supervising agent through a payment schedule.

These conditions are still optional for a Judge and can be chosen a la carte.

What are special conditions?

Special conditions can include a wide variety of different requirements for a probation. Common special conditions include:

  • Providing DNA samples
  • Submitting to evaluation and attend and successfully complete mental health treatment as directed by your supervising agent
  • Submit to, successfully complete, and pay required costs for evaluation, testing and treatment education, as directed by your supervising agent.
  • Attend and successfully complete alcohol/drug treatment
  • Enroll in, pay any required costs for, and successfully complete treatment
  • Attend and successfully complete parenting class.
  • Attend self-help group meetings
  • Totally abstain from alcohol, illegal substances, and abusive use of any prescription drug.
  • Comply with alcohol testing
  • Comply with random drug tests
  • Apply for alcohol restriction on driver's license
  • Refrain from driving and/or attempting to drive after consuming alcohol.
  • Attend Victim Impact Panel meetings when notified.
  • Attend and successfully complete MVA Driver Improvement Program.
  • Attend and successfully complete MVA Alcohol Education Program.
  • Have Ignition Interlock installed
  • Complete community service
  • No contact orders
  • Stay away orders

I need help with supervised and unsupervised probation

If you need help with one or more probation violations, speaking with an attorney would be best. These violations could occur after your probation period has ended. If you have a prior criminal conviction, you may now even know that you were placed on a probation.

Probation violations could be for failing a drug test, not complying with drug testing, or missing scheduled drug tests. If you were drug tested and come up positive, this could also give rise to a violation.

Perhaps the probation department did not contact you, or your plea agreement was unclear as to probation terms. Failure to comply with probation could result in a Court order that acts to revoke probation.

This is where you may be in need of legal services. A criminal defense should be able to help you understand what type of exposure you have on a probation violation. Maryland Parole and Probation rules can be tricky, and a formal probation isn't something that most people are prepared for by their attorney.

Do you have more questions about probation? Contact us and we can provide more answers about a probation sentence.