A chance to remain free (or serve only a short time) given by a judge to a person convicted of a crime instead of being sent to jail or prison, provided the person can be good. probation is only given under specific court-ordered terms, such as performing public service work, staying away from liquor, paying a fine, maintaining good behavior, getting mental therapy and reporting regularly to a probation officer. violation of probation terms will usually result in the person being sent to jail for the normal term. repeat criminals are normally not eligible for probation. probation is not the same as “parole,” which is freedom under certain restrictions given to convicts at the end of their imprisonment.