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Probationer Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Where can I find a list of county probation departments and their addresses?
  2. What information will probation officers require of me?
  3. What is "Interim Probation Supervision?"
  4. Am I required to work while under probation supervision?
  5. What are the hours of community service that a probationer can be ordered to complete?
  6. Will the probation department inform me of the type of work to be performed at a community service worksite?
  7. What is expected of me while performing court ordered community service?
  8. What is a "split sentence?"
  9. Can a probationer relocate out of New York State?
  10. How can a probationer who is a victim of domestic violence obtain more information?
  11. I'm on probation for DWI how I get my license back?
  12. I'm on probation for DWI why have I been directed to put an ignition interlock in my car and pay for it?
  13. I'm on probation for DWI and I don't drive. Why can't I enjoy a drink every now and then?
  14. If I am onprobation for a sex offense and listed on the State’s Sex Offender Registry am I required to file a change of address form when I move?
  15. Who must register with the State's Sex Offender Registry (SOR)?
  16. How long will an offender be registered?
  17. What happens if an offender fails to register?
  18. Where can I find more information about the Sex Offender Registry and the Sex Offender Registration Act (SORA) and my requirements as a probationer?
  19. What is a "Certificate of Relief from Disabilities?"
  20. How can I obtain a "Certificate of Relief from Disabilities?"
  21. How do I obtain legal advice or representation if I cannot afford to hire an attorney?
  22. How do I file a formal complaint about my probation officer, the probation department, or any other OPCA-funded Alternatives to Incarceration program?

1. Where can I find a list of county probation departments and their addresses?

The NYS Office of Probation and Correctional Alternatives’ (OPCA) website currently includes a Directory of Probation Departments. The Directory provides the name and address of each county probation department as well as the name of each department director.

2. What information will probation officers require of me?

This depends on why you have a probation officer. If an investigation has been ordered by the court, the probation officer will ask questions regarding past and present criminal justice involvement, family environment, education, military service, employment, substance abuse, mental health and many other circumstances that may give an indication as to how a person might interact with his/her environment and what risk the person poses to the community. The information is provided in a report to the court. If the person is sentenced to probation supervision, the same type of information is required, but it is provided to the probation officer with information about the probationer’s current lifestyle.

3. What is "Interim Probation Supervision?"

When the court determines that a person is eligible for a probation sentence and the defendant (who has been convicted by plea or by trial) agrees, the court may adjourn the sentencing for up to one year from the date of conviction and place a defendant under interim probation supervision as a “test” to see if the person might be successful on probation. If successful, when the person returns to court, they are generally sentenced to probation (rather than jail or prison). Please note that being placed on interim supervision does not guarantee a sentence to probation at the end of the interim period. In addition, if you are sentenced to probation after successfully completing the interim probation period, your term of probation begins at sentencing and does not include the time you spent (which could be up to a year) under interim probation supervision. Interim supervision may be terminated prior to the end of the term and may result in a sentence to incarceration based on the individual’s performance while under interim supervision.

4. Am I required to work while under probation supervision?

That depends. Generally, probation departments will require that a probationer work or attend school or a vocational program while under supervision if doing so improves the probationer’s chance of success. Employment promotes responsibility and accountability. We know that employment helps to reduce probationer recidivism and enhances public safety. New York State is committed to increasing the number of probationers who are employed and able to support their families, as well as pay restitution to victims and fees to supervising probation departments.

5. What are the hours of community service that a probationer can be ordered to complete?

Community service hours should be set by the court after careful consideration of the probationer’s: length of sentence; family, religious and social obligations; and education and employment situations. The following are recommended maximum hours based on the level of the underlying crime of conviction: (However, the court can order whatever it wants.)

D felony - 500

E felony - 400

A misdemeanor - 200

B misdemeanor and unclassified misdemeanor - 100

Violation - 70

6. Will the probation department inform me of the type of work to be performed at a community service worksite?

The community service program coordinator or probation officer will ensure that the participant is informed of the scope of duties and work schedule of the placement at the community service worksite. The community service program coordinator or probation officer will provide the participant with all information necessary to report to the worksite. The community service program coordinator or probation officer may also arrange for the worksite to conduct an initial interview with the participant, during which the participant is informed of the scope of duties and work schedule of the placement.

7. What is expected of me while performing court ordered community service?

The community service program or probation officer will inform the participant of his or her responsibilities to: report according to the work schedule; complete all requirements of the community service order; and comply with all participant/community service program/worksite agreements that have been made during the placement process.

8. What is a “split sentence”?

Judges may sentence an offender directly to a term of probation or may impose a “split sentence” under which a period of incarceration in a local jail at the beginning of the supervision period is a condition of the probation sentence.

9. Can a probationer relocate out of New York State?

Each case is considered individually. When a probationer requests, through their probation officer, a transfer of supervision to another state (Receiving State), the probation officer in the current department (Sending State) reviews the case to determine whether the probationer meets the necessary criteria for transfer. That criteria includes having an established residence or immediate family and employment or visible means of financial support in the Receiving State. It is important to note that a transfer to another state is a privilege – it is not a right - provided to probationers who are currently complying with their terms and conditions of probation. If the probation officer agrees to pursue a transfer, the probationer must execute a waiver of extradition and must agree to abide by the terms and conditions set by both the Sending and Receiving States.

10. How can a probationer who is a victim of domestic violence obtain more information?

Domestic violence is a crime. Public safety is a primary responsibility of the probation department. Those who are under probation supervision who may be the victims of domestic violence also deserve to be safe. Probation officers in New York State are aware of the sensitive nature of the dangers of domestic violence. In addition to speaking with your probation officer, information can be obtained from the New York State Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence.

11. I'm on probation for DWI how I get my license back?

Direct all questions about relicensing to your probation officer. Courts in some counties may not allow DWI probationers to be relicensed while on probation. If relicensing is allowed, the probation officer will explain the requirements which you must complete. These requirements usually include the successful completion of a treatment program, up-to-date payments (of all fines, fees, and restitution), no re-arrests or convictions and a minimum length of time served on your probation period.

12. I'm on probation for DWI why have I been directed to put an ignition interlock in my car and pay for it?

New York State law requires ignition interlocks to be installed at your expense in your car if you have been convicted of DWI for the second time within five years. You may be required to install the interlock on your car or the car that you have been driving even if it is owned by someone else. People who have been convicted more than once for DWI are more at risk for drinking and driving without a license. The ignition interlock is installed to protect the public.

13. I'm on probation for DWI and I don't drive. Why can't I enjoy a drink every now and then?

If you are on probation for DWI you will have a condition of probation which requires abstinence from alcohol and other illegal drugs. Abstinence is required not only to prevent you from drinking and driving while on probation but also to assist you in rehabilitation. The probation officer will test you for use of alcohol and other drugs.

14. If I am onprobation for a sex offense and listed on the State’s Sex Offender Registry am I required to file a change of address form when I move?

All individuals under probation supervision who change their address must notify their probation officer and complete a Change of Address for the State’s Sex Offender Registry (SOR). Additionally, probation officers regularly check offender addresses, compare them to the Sex Offender Registry (SOR) and require that offenders complete change of address forms when necessary. A probationer’s failure to report changes of address to their probation officer may result in the probationers’ return to court as a probation violator and may have warrants issued for their arrest.

15. Who must register with the State’s Sex Offender Registry (SOR)?

The Sex Offender Registration Act (SORA) requires anyone on parole or probation or imprisoned for a sex offense on January 21, 1996, to register with the Division of Criminal Justice Services . Also, sex offenders sentenced to probation, local jail, or state prison after that date must register upon their release from jail or prison. You should have received a letter from the NYS Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) indicating your responsibilities in regards to the Sex Offender Registry.

16. How long will an offender be registered?

Sex offenders who have been designated a sexual predator, a sexually violent offender or a predicate sex offender by the courts remains on the Sex Offender Registry for life. All other sex offenders must register for a period of ten years. However, offenders whose risk level status was a Level 3 risk on March 11, 2002 must also register for life unless relieved of that obligation by the court.

17. What happens if an offender fails to register?

The failure to register is a crime. A first conviction is punishable as a class A misdemeanor; a repeat conviction is punishable as a class D felony.

18. Where can I find more information about the Sex Offender Registry and the Sex Offender Registration Act (SORA) and my requirements as a probationer?

Individuals under probation supervision should ask their probation officer for more information and/or contact the NYS Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS)

19. What is a “Certificate of Relief from Disabilities?”

A Certificate of Relief restores most of the rights that are lost due to a felony conviction. The Certificate does not restore the right to hold public office, nor does it erase the conviction. Additionally, particular agencies and authorities may still deny an offender’s formerly held rights, based upon further investigation. For example, issuance of a Certificate of Relief to an offender does not ensure that a pistol permit application by the offender will be approved. A Certificate of Relief also does not cancel, or in any other way affect, the automatic forfeiture of a felony DWI offender’s operator’s license.

20. How can I obtain a “Certificate of Relief from Disabilities?

If you were not granted a Certificate of Relief at the time of sentencing, and have not served a term of imprisonment in a state prison, then a Certificate of Relief from Disabilities must be applied for from the sentencing court.

If you were not granted a Certificate of Relief at the time of sentence and were sentenced to a term of imprisonment in a state prison, then you must apply for a Certificate of Relief from Disabilities from the NYS Board of Parole, 97 Central Avenue, Albany, NY 12206.

21. How do I obtain legal advice or representation if I cannot afford to hire an attorney?

If you need legal advice you should contact a local attorney or Bar Association or visit the New York State Bar Association website at http://www.nysba.org (look under Lawyer Referral and Information Service) or call them, toll-free, at 1-800-342-3661. If you have a legal problem and cannot afford a lawyer, contact the public defense organization in your community. Addresses of these organizations can be found at http://www.criminaljustice.state.ny.us/crimnet/ojsa/agdir/contents.htm

22. How do I file a formal complaint about my probation officer, the probation department, or any other OPCA-funded Alternatives to Incarceration program?

If you have questions, concerns or complaints regarding a particular probation officer or department, please be advised that such issues should first be addressed with the probation officer’s supervisor and/or the Director of that department. If after having written to the Probation Department Director concerning your problem, you are not satisfied, you may file a written complaint with the NYS Division of Probation and Correctional Alternatives (OPCA). All correspondence to OPCA should be sent to the attention of the State Director at 80 Wolf Road, Albany, New York 12205.