An Overview of Federal Probation Violation

The biggest fear for anyone charged with a crime is having to serve time in prison. Besides having your charges dropped or getting acquitted in court, receiving probation could be the best outcome. Federal judges consider numerous factors and are influenced by countless factors when sentencing a defendant to probation. 

In other words, it is not just luck but often a compelling life story well -presented by your lawyer which may help you receive probation if convicted of a  federal crime. Below, we have summarized some of the important things to know about probation as punishment for federal crimes.

Duration of Federal Probation

Federal courts will not impose a sentence of probation for more than five years. Misdemeanors also carry a maximum probation sentence of five years, but judges are not required to impose a minimum sentence. Federal infractions carry a maximum probation sentence of one year.

Those convicted of federal domestic violence must serve probation if they are not sentenced to prison.

Probation is Not Available for All Federal Crimes

Defendants convicted of a federal Class A or B felony are not generally eligible for probation. Probation is also not an option when federal law prohibits it as a punishment, as it does for certain crimes.

Conditions of Federal Probation

A few conditions are fairly standard in federal probation and supervised release (more on supervised release below). Defendants are prohibited from engaging in other crimes while on probation (under threat of more severe penalties). Individuals subject to probation must typically meet with a probation officer regularly and pay restitution to victims. 

Other conditions might include becoming and remaining gainfully employed, not traveling outside a specified geographic area, fulfilling family obligations, participating in treatment programs, always surrendering firearms, and submitting to regular drug and alcohol tests. Judges have wide latitude to impose a number of special conditions on federal defendants while under supervision.

Difference Between Probation and Supervised Release

Supervised release is the federal version of what many people consider to be “parole”, a period of supervision after finishing a term of imprisonment. A federal defendant who serves time behind bars may be ordered to spend time in supervised release following his or her prison sentence. Many of the probation conditions we mentioned above can also apply to individuals on federal supervised release.

The main difference between federal probation and supervised release is the opportunity for an intermittent prison sentence. For example, some probation sentences might require the defendant to spend weekends in prison. This is not a common condition of federal supervised release.


While probation is preferable to a federal prison sentence, serving a probation sentence is seldom easy or straightforward.  Though you still enjoy certain due process rights if it’s alleged you violated probation, in a certain sense you are still at the mercy of the criminal justice system, and any misstep—no matter how insignificant—may have serious consequences for you and your family.

Weisberg Kainen Mark, PL has represented countless individuals accused of federal crimes. We know how stressful the criminal justice system can be, and we’re here to fight for you. Reach us through our website or by phone at (305) 374-5544 to schedule a time to speak with our team.

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Weisberg Kainen Mark, PL

As experienced trial lawyers with a passion for justice, our firm provides clients with compelling advocacy, attorney availability, and creative solutions to your tax or criminal law matters.

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