Probation of Offenders Act 1907
The Probation of Offenders Act 1907 (7 Edw. 7 c. 17) is an Act of the United Kingdom Parliament, commonly referred to as just the Probation Act.
The Act allows judges wide latitude to dismiss a charge tried summarily against a defendant even when the court thinks it is proved, or to conditionally discharge a defendant (whether the charge is tried summarily or on indictment). The power may be invoked when the court is of the opinion that
|“||having regard to the character, antecedents, age, health, or mental condition of the person charged, or to the trivial nature of the offence, or to the extenuating circumstances under which the offence was committed, it is inexpedient to inflict any punishment or any other than a nominal punishment, or that it is expedient to release the offender on probation[.]||”|
In practice, cases may be dismissed under the Probation Act for a defendant on condition that he pays a contribution to charity, or repays an amount stolen, or pays the costs arising from his actions. They may also be dismissed where the offence is technical or trivial. The application of the Act has occasionally caused controversy where victims or persons affected by the crime feel that the dismissal is inappropriate.
Despite the name, a dismissal under the Probation Act does not put the offender on probation in the sense of having to report to and engage with a probation officer, unless it is expressed to do so. Indeed, if a defendant is "given the Probation Act", it does not count as a criminal conviction, although it has been known to negatively affect travel abroad.
- Schedule 1 to the Statute Law Revision Act, 2007
- http://www.fingal-independent.ie/premium/news/probation-act-for-ducie-after-donation-made-2108180.html (subscription required)