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COVID-19 and Probation Requirements

Under the current COVID-19 conditions, must I still keep in contact with my Probation Officer in Tennessee?

Despite current coronavirus pandemic conditions and restrictions, you must still maintain regular contact with and report to your Probation Officer as directed in Tennessee. Probationers and parolees continue to be supervised according to risk, with officer contact through email and phone communication. While on probation you must comply with all standard and special terms and conditions set by the court, to the best of your ability under current stay-at-home orders.

However, for some here in Nashville, there is still limited in-office reporting, which may also incorporate a non-invasive screening process for COVID-19 symptoms. Probationers and parolees with questions about their reporting schedule and current requirements should contact your supervising officer.

Under the current COVID-19 conditions, must I still continue with Court ordered probationary drug testing requirements, if I am on probation in General Sessions Court?

No, while most in-person court appearances have been suspended through the end of April due to the coronavirus pandemic, in-person drug testing has recently been waived by the General Sessions Judges in Davidson County, Tennessee.

As of April 2, 2020, an Order from Judge Lynda Jones states that “Drug testing for defendants on probation shall be immediately suspended due to Coronavirus, UNLESS defendant is on probation in a Recovery court under Judge Melissa Blackburn, Gale Robinson, or Ana Escobar. Defendants who have drug testing as a condition of probation for DUI shall also be tested for alcohol use. This order shall remain in effect until April 30, 2020.”

Hence, Judge Jones has officially suspended drug testing for those on probation in Davidson County, Tennessee until April 30th. However, those on bond, in a Recovery court, or required to test for DUI, must still test.

Since Nashville judges have suspended mandatory drug testing for people on probation, it wouldn’t stop the practice across the state. That would require an order from the state Supreme Court (or voluntary action in each jurisdiction).

Most probation departments provide probationers with a list of terms and conditions that clearly states drug testing as a condition; however, whether you have it in writing or not, assume you can be drug tested. Typically, you will submit to an initial urine test that is used as a “baseline” test. The results can then be compared to later tests if you test positive for anything.

For further information, see the Tennessee Department of Correction website.