Family Court FAQs

General Questions

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What is the difference between probation and parole?

Probation is a sentence that allows a person to remain in the community instead of jail or placed outside of the home. If a person successfully completes probation then their case is finished.

Parole is a type of supervision in the community that a person convicted of an adult offense would receive after they serve part of a prison term. They usually have to serve one third of a maximum sentence before they are eligible to be released on parole.

My child is on probation, not me. Why do I have to cooperate with Probation?

We agree that parents are not on probation. Parents are an important part of a team that includes the child, Probation Officer or any other significant person in your child’s life that can help him or her effect positive change in their behavior, prevent re-arrest and achieve a better outcome for the family as a whole.

My child just got on probation and is still doing the same things as before.

Making significant changes in behavior in many cases does not happen overnight, especially with children. Probation Officers work with parents, the child who is on probation and other significant individuals to develop a plan to assist with helping your child to change his or her behavior in a positive way. Short-term achievable goals will be set by you and your child with help from the Probation Officer to foster positive change in behavior. We do this as a team, “One Step at a Time.”

When is my child officially on probation?

When your child enters the Juvenile Justice process it can take a while. First you and your child will go through the intake process. This phase determines if your child will be referred to the Agency of Corporation Counsel (similar to a prosecutor in the Adult Criminal Justice system). After Corporation Counsel is finished with their investigation, a Petition might be filed. If a petition is filed, a Court Date will be set and a resolution or finding to the case will be determined. If the Court finds that your child committed the acts involved in the case, Probation is then ordered to complete an Investigation and Report (I&R) to assist the Court in making a Disposition (Sentencing). When the case goes back to court and if the Judge then orders probation as a disposition, it is at this time that your child is officially placed on probation. During the Intake and Investigation process the youth is not on probation.

Why does Probation need my personal and financial information?

Your personal and financial information is needed to provide the Court with a complete picture of your household. They are also needed to better assist your child through the Court and Probation process. Additionally, this information is needed to complete applications for programs to which your child may be referred.

Do parents have to report to Probation with their child for every Probation appointment?

No. A parent or guardian must be present during the intake process, court appearances, initial supervision meetings, and any other time it is requested from court officials including probation staff. Yet, it is not necessary for parents or guardians to show up for every probation appointment, unless they choose to. Please plan ahead by calling to schedule an appointment with the Probation Officer, if you want to discuss or address any concerns you may have regarding your child’s case.

Can my child travel out of state if he/she is on probation?

Yes, it is possible. However, you must consult with the Probation Officer and obtain a Travel Permit for your child to travel outside of the state. In some cases, if the duration is an extended one, it may be necessary to get the Court’s approval.

Why do I have to sign consent forms?

We encourage parents and guardians to sign the consent for the release of confidential information forms as this will aid the efforts of Probation and other service providers to share information and effectively serve your child. Of course, you also have the right to choose not to sign the forms.