What is Probation?

Legal Definition
Probation in criminal law is a period of supervision over an offender, ordered by a court instead of serving time in prison.

In some jurisdictions, the term probation only applies to community sentences (alternatives to incarceration), such as suspended sentences. In others, probation also includes supervision of those conditionally released from prison on parole.

An offender on probation is ordered to follow certain conditions set forth by the court, often under the supervision of a probation officer. During the period of probation an offender faces the threat of being incarcerated if found breaking the rules set by the court or probation officer.

Offenders are ordinarily required to refrain from possession of firearms, and may be ordered to remain employed or participate in an educational program, abide to a curfew, live at a directed place, obey the orders of the probation officer, or not leave the jurisdiction. The probationer might be ordered as well to refrain from contact with the victims (such as a former partner in a domestic violence case), with potential victims of similar crimes (such as minors, if the instant offense involves child sexual abuse), or with known criminals, particularly co-defendants. Additionally, the restrictions can include a ban on possession or use of alcoholic beverages, even if alcohol was not involved in the original criminal charges. Offenders on probation might be fitted with an electronic tag (or monitor), which signals their whereabouts to officials. Also, offenders have been ordered to submit to repeat alcohol/drug testing or to participate in alcohol/drug or psychological treatment, or to perform community service work.
-- Wikipedia
Legal Definition
A court-imposed criminal sentence that, subject to stated conditions and restrictions, releases a convicted criminal defendant into the community instead of confining him or her to jail or prison.

May also refer to the act of judicially proving a will. See probate.
Legal Definition
The evidence which proves a thing. It is either by record, writing, the party's own oath, or the testimony of witnesses. Proof. (q. v.) It also signifies the time of a novitiate; a trial. Nov. 5.
-- Bouviers Law Dictionary
Legal Definition
The act of proving; evidence ; proof. Also trial; test; the time of novitiate. Used in the latter sense in the monastic orders. In modern criminal administration, allowing a person convicted of some minor offence (particularly juvenile offenders) to go at large, under a suspension of sentence, during good behavior, and generally under the supervision or guardianship of a "probation officer."
-- Black's Law Dictionary
Legal Definition
Proof; trial.
-- Ballentine's Law Dictionary