Frequently Asked Questions

What is probation?
Probation is a sentencing option for the court in the case of certain crimes. A sentence of probation is given instead of prison time.
What is the difference between probation and parole?
Probation is a sentence imposed by a criminal or family court at the time of adjudication or sentencing. Probation permits the offender to remain in the community under conditions specified by that court and requiring supervision by a probation officer.

In contrast, Parole is early release from incarceration for certain convicted prisoners. Parole is granted by a parole board. If granted parole, the parolee serves the remainder of his sentence back in the community under supervision of parole officers. Learn more about parole, which is a state not a county function.

Is probation just a "slap-on-the wrist"?
No. Adults and juveniles placed on probation must obey the law, attend school or be suitably employed. They must report to their probation officer as directed and allow these officers to visit their homes. If directed, they must make restitution or complete community service.

Treatment is required for those with a history of drug, alcohol, sexual abuse, psychiatric or psychological problems.

What kinds of offenses can lead to a sentencing of probation?
In criminal court the most common offenses committed by probationers are:
  • Driving while intoxicated (DWI)
  • Drugs (possession/sales)
  • Larceny
  • Assault (including domestic violence)
  • Theft
  • Repeatedly driving without a license
  • Fraud
  • Criminal mischief
  • Sex offenses
  • Possession of firearms
  • Burglary
  • Robbery
  • Endangering the welfare of a child

In Family Court, adults are placed on probation for committing acts of domestic violence. Juveniles are placed on probation for committing an offense if committed by an adult would constitute a crime or after being found to be a Person in Need of Supervision due to a pattern of ungovernable behavior.

What is restitution?
Restitution is monetary compensation paid to victims to reimburse them for loss, damage or injury as the result of a criminal act.

In Warren County, the probation department is the designated collection and disbursement agency for restitution collected not only from probationers under our supervision, but from inmates in both local and state penitentiaries and from parolees.

Are there sex offenders on probation?
Yes. In Warren County the majority of convicted sex offenders are sentenced to a term of probation. In view of this, the Department of Probation developed a sex offender program that offers intensive supervision coupled with offense-specific treatment in an attempt to maximize community safety.

The department supervises both convicted adult and juvenile sex offenders. A wide range of interventions are employed, such as on-site group therapy, off-site individual therapy, use of polygraph examination, computer forensics and surveillance to maximize community safety.

What happens if a probationer violates the terms of probation?
The probation officer has several options when the orders and conditions of probation are not followed. A series of graduated sanctions can be imposed, some examples are: more frequent contact with the probation officer, referrals for needed services, or the case can be returned to court.

If the probationer is found to have violated probation the judge may add time to the sentence or impose additional conditions. For adults, the judge may revoke the probation and impose a sentence of incarceration, and for juveniles, place the offender in a group home or residential treatment facility.

What qualifications are required to become a probation officer?
Probation officers are college graduates appointed from a certified list of candidates who successfully passed the NYS Probation Officer Trainee Civil Service Exam. Current job openings and information about civil service examinations can be found on the county's Civil Service Web site.