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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Probation Client Rights

What are my rights as a probation client?
Can I vote?

Reporting

How often do I have to report to my Probation Officer?
What are the rules for reporting to my Probation Officer? 
What happens if I don’t report to my Probation Officer? 
What are some of the documents I should bring to my first appointment with my Probation Officer? 
What am I prohibited from bringing to my Probation appointment? 

Supervision

Will my Probation Officer visit my home? 
Will my Probation Officer contact my employer or visit my place of employment? 
Do I have to give a DNA sample?

Am I required to work while under probation supervision?

How many hours of community service is a client required to complete? 

Early Discharge

Can I apply for an Early Discharge? 
Will DOP request an Early Discharge of my case?  

Transfers

What is the Centralized Interstate Unit?

Travel 

What happens if I have an emergency and need to travel out-of-state? 

Violations 
What is a Violation of Probation? 

Treatment Services

Why is it important that I participate in treatment? 
Do I have to attent treatment? 
Am I responsible for paying for my treatment services?  

Re-arrests

What should I do if I am re-arrested while serving a probation sentence? 
I was just released from custody - what is the first thing I should do? 

Fines, Fees and Restitution

Who do I pay my court fines and court fees to? 
Where do I send my restitution payments? 

DWI Probation Administrative Fee

Do I have to pay Probation Administrative fees? Driver's License

How do I get my driver's license back?

Sex Offenders

Who must register with the State’s Sex Offender Registry? 
For how many years does a sex offender rhave to register with the NY State Sex Offender Registry?
What happens if a Sex Offender fails to register?  
Where can I learn more? 

 An Explanation of Technical Terms

What is a Pre-Sentence Investigation Report? 
What is a Certificate of Relief from Disabilities? 
What is a Certificate of Good Conduct? 
What is an Order of Protection?  

 Miscellaneous

I have information about a probation client who is committing criminal activity. How should I report this information? 
Where can I find a list of county probation departments and their address? 

 


Probation Client Rights

What are my rights as a probation client?
You have the right to be treated in a respectful and professional manner, free from any form of harassment, bias, or discrimination. If you have any problems or issues, speak with your Probation Officer or the Supervising Probation Officer.

Can I vote?
Yes, but you need to register in the county and district where you reside. You may need to restore your voting rights.  Learn more about voting rights.  


Reporting

How often do I have to report to my Probation Officer?
Your Probation Officer may need to see you once a week, once a month, or some other interval depending upon your circumstances.

What are the rules for reporting to my Probation Officer?
You must report on the day and time assigned by your Probation Officer.  If an emergency or illness prevents you from reporting, call your Probation Officer to get a new appointment.

What happens if I don’t report to my Probation Officer?
You may receive a letter directing you to report. Your Probation Officer may call you or visit your home.  Failure to report may result in a violation of probation.

What are some of the documents I should bring my first appointment with my Probation Officer?

You should bring the following:

  • Photo identification (Driver’s License or State ID)
  • Verification of residence (utility bill or business mail)
  • Proof of employment (pay stub or note from your employer), if possible
  • Documents verifying other means of support
  • Proof of completed treatment, community service, or restitution

What am I prohibited from bringing to my Probation appointment?
You should never bring drugs, weapons, including knives, box cutters, screwdrivers, etc.


Supervision

Will my Probation Officer visit my home?
Yes, Probation Officers have the legal right to make unannounced visits to your residence.   

Will my Probation Officer contact my employer or visit my place of employment?
Yes, your Probation Officer may visit your place of employment.

Do I have to give a DNA sample?
DNA samples are required from all persons convicted of a penal law felony and some specified misdemeanors.  Youthful Offenders are not required to submit to a DNA sample.

Am I required to work while under probation supervision?
Probation requires that you work or attend school or a vocational program while under supervision because doing so improves the your chance of success.  Exceptions may be made for those with physical disabilities that prevent them for working or those who are in residential treatment. 

How many hours of community service is a client required to complete?
You must complete the amount of hours ordered by the court.


Early Discharge

Can I apply for an Early Discharge?
Any client can apply to the Court for an Early Discharge. Only the Court has the power to grant this request.

Will DOP request an Early Discharge of my case?
DOP may request an Early Discharge of your case if you meet certain criteria.  But again, only the Court has the power to grant this request.  You can discuss this issue further with your probation officer.


Transfers
What is the Centralized Unit?
The Centralized Interstate Unit (CIU) coordinates transfers of all probation clients who are leaving and coming to New York City from other states or other counties in New York. To facilitate this process, CIU staff communicates with clients, local probation officers, and probation officers in other jurisdications throughout the country.  

Out-of-State Travel

What happens if I have an emergency and need to travel out-of-state?
In the event of a family emergency, probation clients who are in good standing may be given approval to travel within the United States before or after the fact.  You must seek prior approval if time permits. The probation client must provide details and verification of the trip as soon as possible.


Probation Violations

What is a Violation of Probation?
When there are reasonable grounds to believe that a person has violated any of the conditions of his/her probation sentence, a violation of probation is filed with the Court.  The violation of probation notifies the probation client of the conditions of probation that were violated and gives a reasonable description of the violation. You may be taken into custody and brought before the Court, or the Court may direct you to appear before the Court to answer the charges against you.  Failure to appear before the Court may result in a bench warrant being issued for your return to Court and additional charges being filed against you. 

At a violation of probation hearing you are entitled to legal representation.  You are afforded an opportunity to be heard, and the Court may conduct a hearing.  At the end of the hearing your probation sentence may be revoked, continued or modified.  If your probation sentence is revoked, you may be resentenced to a term of imprisonment.


Treatment Services

Why is it important that I participate in treatment?
Treatment can help you overcome challenges that are preventing you from achieving your goals.

Do I have to attend treatment?
You must attent treatment when mandated or directed to do so.

Am I responsible for paying for my treatment services?
You may have to pay for your treatment.  However, you may be eligible to receive financial support or free or reduced-cost services—ask your Probation Officer.

Re-arrests

What should I do if I am re-arrested while serving a probation sentence?
If you are re-arrested, charged with any offense, or come into contact with the police, contact your Probation Officer immediately. You may do this in person or by phone.

I was just released from custody - what is the first thing I should do?
You should contact your Probation Officer and report the next business day to the Department of Probation.


Fines, Fees and Restitution

Who do I pay court fines and court fees to? 
Court fines and court fees must be paid directly to the Court that sentenced you.

Where to I send my restitution payments?  
If you were sentenced within New York State, your restitution payments should be sent to Safe Horizon. If you were sentenced in a state other than New York, your Probation Officer will provide you with the appropriate address and contact information regarding where you should send your restitution payments.


DWI Probation Administrative Fee

Do I have to pay DWI Probation Administrative fees?
Yes. New York City law requires that persons convicted of any crime under Article 31 of the vehicle and traffic law and sentenced to a term of probation shall pay the New York City Department of Probation an administrative fee in the amount of $30.00 per month.


Driver's License

How do I get by driver's license back?
To get your driver's license back, you must contact the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). The Department of Probation cannot reissue your license.


Sex Offenders

Who must register with the State’s Sex Offender Register?
The Sex Offender Registration Act requires anyone convicted of a sex offense to register with DCJS.

For how many years does a sex offender have to register with the NY State Sex Offender Registry?
Level 1 offenders (not designated as a sexual predator, sexually violent offender or a predicate sex offender) must register annually for 20 years.

Level 2 sex offenders, Level 3 sex offenders and any sex offender who is designated a sexual predator, or a sexually violent offender, or a predicate sex offender must register annually for life.

What happens if a Sex Offender fails to register?
Failing to register with the NY State Sex Offender Registry is a crime. A first conviction is punishable as a Class E Felony, a second or subsequent conviction for failure to register is punishable as a Class D Felony.

Where can I learn more? 
Please refer to www.criminaljustice.ny.gov/nsor.


An Explanation of Technical Terms

What is a Pre-Sentence Investigation Report?
A pre-sentence report is prepared by DOP when ordered by the Court.  DOP gathers information regarding the defendant including, but not limited to, the circumstances of the current offense, criminal history of the defendant, the defendant’s social history, physical and mental health, employment history, education, personal habits, family situation and economic status. 

The pre-sentence report assists the Court in determining an appropriate sentence for a person convicted of a crime. Defendants are encouraged to provide documentation to DOP that they believe would assist in this process.  DOP will also obtain information for the pre-sentence report from interviews with the defendant, family members and victims.

What is a Certificate of Relief from Disabilities?
If you receive a sentence of probation, you may be eligible to apply for a Certificate of Relief from Disabilities.  It generally removes statutory or legal bars to employment for people convicted of a crime.  Therefore, instead of being automatically disqualified from holding certain jobs because of your conviction, the employer must consider you on an individual basis.   In order to be eligible for a certificate of relief, you cannot have been convicted of more than one felony.

What is a Certificate of Good Conduct?
A Certificate of Good Conduct may be granted by the State Board of Parole to a person who was convicted of a crime anywhere in NY State and who was sentenced to a term of incarceration in a NYS Department of Correctional Services facility.  It may also be available to those who have been convicted of more than one crime in NY State, or a crime in any other jurisdiction.  The State Board of Parole has the power to issue this certificate. It is similar to the Certificate of Relief in that it can remove legal bars to employment.
   

What is an Order of Protection?
An Order of Protection is a court order that requires an individual to perform or refrain from certain acts with respect to the protected party.  If the individual fails to comply, he or she may face criminal and/or civil penalties.

The court order may prohibit an abuser from contacting a victim and can order an abuser to stay away from the victim, the victim’s home, workplace or school.  You should ask your lawyer to explain all of the rules when an order of protection is issued against you.


Miscellaneous

I have information about a probation client who is committing criminal activity.  How should I report this information? 
You should contact your local police precinct (directory
 
here) or call 311.   

Where can I find a list of county probation departments and their address?
The NYS Office of Probation and Correctional Alternatives website includes a Directory of Counties —click 
here to see it.