Adult Probation Q&A

What is Probation?
Probation is an alternative to incarceration that allows sentenced individuals to live and work in the community, support their families, participate in counseling services and make restitution to the victims of their crimes. Probation is the most common sentence imposed by the courts in the United States. The Probation Department provides public safety through supervision, treatment and prevention. Probation Officers are peace officers with dual responsibilities of protection of the community and rehabilitation of the offender. The ultimate goal is long term public safety and the reduction of further victimization.
Is Probation the same as Parole?
No. Probation is an alternative to incarceration for selected defendants, although a short period of jail time may be included at the beginning of the sentence. Parole is an early release of a prisoner before the end of a New York State Prison sentence.  In New York State, Probation is operated by County Government and Parole is operated by the State. Please visit: Department of Corrections and Community Supervision
Does a person escape punishment by receiving Probation?
No, in fact, some offenders choose a jail sentence rather than be under probation supervision, because of the requirements and restrictions placed upon them.  Probationers must obey the law, be suitably employed or in school, report to the Probation Officer as directed and allow Probation Officers to visit their homes. Many probationers are required to pay restitution, fees or complete community service.  Treatment is required for those with a history of alcohol, drug or sexual offenses.
What are the rules for reporting to my Probation Officer?
You must report on the day and time your Probation Officer tells you to. If you have an emergency or illness that prevents you from keeping your appointment, call and speak directly to your Probation Officer or their Supervisor and get a new appointment.
What should I bring to my appointment with my Probation Officer?
  • Photo ID (Driver License or State ID Card)
  • Proof of where you live (utility bill, business mail, etc.)
  • Proof of employment (pay stub, note from employer)
  • Proof of changes, if any, to your name, address, phone, etc.
  • Proof of any completed treatment, community service, restitution and charity contributions
What should I NOT bring to my appointment with my Probation Officer
  • Drugs and/or Paraphernalia
  • Firearms, Knives, Box-Cutters, Multi-Tools
  • Aerosol Defense Sprays
  • Any item carried with the Intent to bring harm to another individual
  • Any Weapons Determined to be Contraband, Dangerous, or Unnecessary Recording Devices
  • Cell Phones must be turned off
Why is it important that I participate in treatment?
Your Probation Officer may refer you to a treatment program. There are many different types of treatment. These programs will help you improve your situation—they are not a punishment. However, failure to cooperate with treatment may result in a violation of probation. You may not want to go to treatment. This is normal. Programs require your time and effort. The most important first step for you is to attend. Once there, if you approach treatment as an opportunity, you will get the most out of it. Give yourself the best chance for success.
What do I do if I am arrested?
If you are arrested, charged with any offense, or have any police contact, you must notify your Probation Officer within 48 hours of the incident.  You may do this in person or by telephone.
Can I carry a firearm?
No. Probationer with a felony conviction may possess any type of firearms. There are also certain misdemeanor convictions that will restrict a probationer from owning any firearms. If you are subject to a Protective and/or Restraining Order or other court orders not to possess any weapons, you are expected not to own, possess or purchase any weapons or items that could be used as a weapon.
Do I have to give a DNA sample?
If you are notified by letter to give a DNA sample, follow all of the instructions in the letter about who to contact for an appointment and where to go for the appointment. You will need to bring two forms of identification to the appointment. Your refusal to give a DNA sample is a Class A Misdemeanor and can be a violation of your probation.
Is there a fee for Probation services?
Typically there is a $30.00 charge for supervision fees, A sliding scale is offered to individuals who may have certain financial difficulties.
Can I travel out of state?
You may not travel or move out of state without permission from you probation officer. You must obtain a travel permit and carry it with you while out of state. The decision will be based on your need to travel, and your compliance with your probation terms. Plan ahead, as you will need to give your probation officer at least 48 hours to review your request and prepare your travel permit.
What happens if a probationer violates the terms of the Probation?
The Probation Officer can impose a series of graduated sanctions when a person commits a violation.  Many factors come into consideration, such as the seriousness of the violation, the history of the offender and the current circumstances. The sanctions can include more frequent contact with the probation officer, an increase in the level of treatment or even return to court on a violation of probation.  The court may then impose additional conditions of probation or revoke the probation and impose a sentence of incarceration or placement.
What should I do after attending court and instructed to go to Probation Department?
You should go directly to the probation department and inform us you were instructed by the court to come to the probation department. Bring with you any documents received from the court so we can properly provide you with further direction. The secretary will then give you a Pre-Sentence Report Questionnaire or other documents to complete and return to us.
How long will it be before I see a probation officer regarding my Pre-Sentence Investigation report for the court?
Probation Department will notify you within a two week period with an appointment to come back to probation department for a PSI interview before you go back to court for sentencing.



Contact Info

Thomas Zampella

Timothy Ferrara
Deputy Director

Department of Probation
388 Broadway
Schenectady, NY 12305

(518) 388-4330
(518) 388-4342  Fax

Hours:  8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.