Obviously, if you are on probation and catch a new charge, you will be violated, but you might be surprised to discover what non-criminal events can also cause a violation to be filed. Some examples:
Failed drug test: Failing a drug test is not a crime, unless you are on probation. Then it is called a “technical violation” and you can have your probation revoked over it and go to jail. Some probation officers would rather send you to treatment than to jail but it is actually up to the judge who hears the violation.
Fines and Court Costs: There is no “debtor’s prison,” unless you are on probation and fail to pay your monthly probation fees or your court costs. Most probation officers will allow some leeway in terms of when they are paid, but if you get too far behind or do not get them done by the time probation is finished, you could find yourself being booked into jail for a probation violation.
Police contact: You don’t have to be arrested to be violated for police contact when you are on probation. Any police contact outside of a traffic ticket qualifies for a violation if your probation officer is in the mood. Being questioned, detained or otherwise involved with the law can cause a problem. Not reporting such contact to your probation officer within 12-24 hours is also considered a violation in many states.
Changes: Most probation officers require you to ask permission before moving to a new residence, changing jobs or making big purchases such as cars. In addition, getting married typically needs permission. Not doing so could cause a violation.
Court orders: If you were ordered to get your GED, complete substance abuse rehab or take classes of any kind (such as anger management or morals classes) and do not, get ready to be violated. Most probation officers will be flexible about timing but if months go by and you have not started, it can be an issue.
Final thoughts: Probation isn’t easy. Keep a copy of the rules close by and refer to them often so you don’t accidentally violate. If you follow them closely, you should be fine.