What You Can and Can’t Do on Probation in New Jersey

If you are charged with a criminal offense in New Jersey, your attorney may help you avoid a harsh jail sentence through probation. Probation allows convicted defendants to serve their sentences from home while complying with various court-imposed conditions or requirements.

Probation comes with very strict conditions, and there are certain things you can and cannot do while on probation. Generally, you cannot do anything that might be considered bad behavior. Committing new crimes, consuming controlled substances, or having weapons is prohibited on probation. You can do anything that allows you to comply with the court’s requirements of your probation. Probation is not available in every case, and your attorney can help you advocate for this alternative sentencing option.

Our Atlantic City criminal defense lawyers can help you get probation to avoid going to jail or prison. For a free review of your case, call the Law Offices of John J. Zarych at (609) 616-4956.

What Is Probation in New Jersey?

Probation is an alternative sentencing option available to New Jersey criminal defendants. Defendants often prefer probation because it allows them to serve their sentences without setting foot inside a jail cell. Instead, convicted defendants serve their sentences from home while complying with certain conditions set by the court.

The nature of probation conditions varies from case to case. While some conditions are fairly standard across many cases, other conditions are tailored to individual defendants. Our Atlantic City criminal defense attorneys can help you figure out what conditions might be involved in your case and how you can comply with them.

Knowing what you can and cannot do while on probation is crucial. If you do something you are not supposed to do, you might violate your probation. You can be arrested for probation violations, and a judge might send you to jail to complete the remainder of your sentence.

Common Probation Conditions and Requirements in New Jersey

The court will impose several probation conditions and restrictions you must abide by. Any violations may result in being re-arrested, taken back to court, and your sentence reconsidered. While some conditions are tailored to your unique situation, many common conditions are present across many cases.

Refrain from Criminal Activities

Perhaps the biggest condition imposed by courts is the requirement to refrain from additional criminal activities. If you are arrested for a criminal offense while on probation, not only will you face possible penalties for the new offense, but you will be in violation of your probation.

The entire point of probation is to keep the defendant out of trouble while serving their sentence from home. Getting into trouble shows the court that the defendant cannot be trusted, and a judge might be inclined to send the defendant to jail to complete their sentence.

Drugs and Alcohol

Many defendants who are sentenced to probation were found guilty of drug and alcohol-related offenses. The court may impose restrictions on alcohol consumption and controlled substances. If you are found to have drugs or alcohol in your possession, you might be in violation of your probation.

Defendants convicted of drug and alcohol-related offenses are also often required to undergo testing while on probation. Sometimes these tests are scheduled, other times, they are random, and you do not know when you will next be tested. If any of these tests come back positive, you may be in violation of your probation.


Many convicted defendants on probation are restricted on where they go. The court might prohibit you from leaving the state without first checking in with your probation officer. When a person is placed on probation, the court wants to make sure they stay within the jurisdiction where the court has authority. If you leave the state without telling someone ahead of time or getting approval, you might land in hot water.


Courts like to keep people on probation on a path to rehabilitation. This means requiring the defendant to hold down a job in many cases. This not only keeps the defendant self-sufficient, but it may also keep them out of trouble.

Being unemployed might be something you cannot do while on probation. However, if you suddenly lose your job, courts and probation officers may allow you some time to find a new job before consequences are assessed. Unfortunately, finding a job is easier said than done. If you are on probation and have lost your job, talk to our Ocean City criminal defense attorneys about how this might affect your probation.

Community Service

Community service is a common component of probation in New Jersey and many other states. In some cases, a defendant can choose where they perform community service. The court tells the defendant where they will perform community service in others. Typically, a certain number of hours must be served before your community service requirement is fulfilled. If you fail to show up for community service or do not complete your hours, you may violate your probation.

Meeting with a Probation Officer

All people sentenced to probation must meet with a probation officer. These meetings happen regularly, but your probation officer may drop in and surprise you from time to time. These meetings make sure the defendant stays on track to complete their probation without any violations.

If your probation officer notices any violations, like drugs or alcohol in your home when you are restricted, they may confront you. If they believe you are in violation, they can arrest you. If you are afraid you unintentionally violated your probation somehow, you can contact our Haddonfield criminal defense attorneys to try to help you work things out with your probation officer.

What Are You Allowed to Do While on Probation in New Jersey?

While there are many things you cannot do while on probation, there are still things you can do without violating the terms of your probation. In short, as long as you do not violate your probation, you can do anything you want to. This might be a lot or a little, depending on the restrictions imposed by the court.

For example, there is no reason you cannot hang out with your friends, go to a party, or enjoy your hobbies. However, if the things you want to do conflict with the conditions of your probation, they might be off-limits. Suppose you want to go to a party, but you believe drugs will be at this party. In that case, the party is probably best left unattended.

If you want to do something but are unsure if it conflicts with your probation requirements, speak to our Gloucester City criminal defense attorneys first. We can advise you on what the terms and conditions of your probation mean and how you can stay in compliance.

Contact Our New Jersey Criminal Defense Attorneys

If you or someone you know is facing criminal charges, talk to our Egg Harbor criminal defense lawyers about the possibility of probation. Call the Law Offices of John J. Zarych at (609) 616-4956 for a free case evaluation.

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