What Is Probation?

If you’ve ever been convicted of a criminal offense, your sentence probably included probation. Probation lets a person stay in their community under the supervision of a probation officer. This is more cost-effective than incarceration and lightens the burden felt by an already overcrowded prison system.

Conditions of Probation in Minnesota

Probation also often includes requirements such as maintaining a job or earning a GED. These conditions will hopefully benefit the person long after their probation is over. The judge usually determines the specific terms of your probation at sentencing. While they will vary from case to case, there are some standard terms of probation.

They Include:

  • Having no similar offenses
  • Obeying all state and federal laws and orders of the court
  • Contacting your probation officer as directed
  • Being truthful with your probation officer
  • Telling your probation officer within 72 hours if you’ve had contact with law enforcement, are charged with any new crime, or have changed your address, employment, or telephone number.
  • Not leaving the State of Minnesota without your probation officer’s permission

Common Offense-specific Conditions of Probation:

  • Attending anger management classes
  • Receiving mental health treatment
  • Complying with a no-contact order
  • Serving a certain amount of jail time
  • Paying fines and restitution
  • Remaining free of drugs/alcohol use with random drug/alcohol screenings
  • Signing releases of information, as directed
  • Cooperating with the search of your person, residence, vehicle, workplace, property, and things as directed by your probation officer
  • Giving a DNA sample when directed.
  • Performing community service
  • House arrest with an electronic ankle monitor
  • And, if you’re on probation for a felony offense, not owning, possessing, or using a firearm

There are two types of probation in Minnesota

Probation to the court—Generally, if the only condition of your sentence is to remain law-abiding, you will be sentenced to probation to the court.


Probation to community corrections—If you have other requirements as part of your sentence, you will likely have to report to a probation officer with community corrections.

How is the Length of Probation Determined?

In Minnesota, if life imprisonment or a mandatory minimum sentence is not required by law, a sentence of jail or prison time may be “stayed.” A stayed sentence is when the court gives the convicted person a more lenient sentence, provided the person cooperates with certain conditions. This is the essence of probation. The court can’t place someone on probation indefinitely, however. There are limits to the length of time that offenders can be placed on probation.[1]

Standard Limits to the Length of Probation in Minnesota

  • Type of Conviction Maximum Length
  • Felony FOUR years or maximum sentence for a criminal conviction, whichever is longer        
  • Exceptions: SIX years max probation for convictions for Criminal Vehicular Operation[2]
  • Gross Misdemeanor TWO years         
  • Exceptions: SIX years max probation for convictions for:
  • Driving While Impaired;[3]
  • Criminal Vehicular Operation;[4] or
  • 5th Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct[5]
  • Misdemeanor ONE year            
  • Exceptions: TWO years max probation for convictions for:
  • Driving While Impaired;[6]
  • Interference with Privacy;[7]
  • Obscene or Harassing Telephone Calls;[8]
  • Indecent Exposure;[9] or
  • Domestic Assault[10]
  • Petty Misdemeanor None    

A Court May Extend Probation Beyond the Maximum Periods

If the probationer either has not paid court-ordered restitution, their probation may be extended one additional year. It may be extended another three years if the probationer has not completed their court-ordered treatment. Some people would prefer serving jail time to probation, especially if they feel that they are unable to comply with the conditions of a stayed sentence, set forth by the court. In this case, they can demand the execution of their sentence and serve their jail or prison time.

Are you facing jail or prison time? The experienced lawyers at White & Associates can help you learn whether probation is an option for you. Contact us today!



[1] Minnesota Statute § 609.135, subd. 2.

[2] 609.2113, subd. 1 or 2, or 609.2114, subd. 2

[3] 169A.20

[4] 609.2113, subd. 3

[5] 609.3451

[6] 169A.20

[7] 609.746, subdivision 1

[8] 609.79

[9] 617.23

[10] 609.2242 or 609.224, subd. 1, where the victim was a family or household member

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