Q.What is Probation?
A.The granting of probation is a privilege, not a right. After an adult offender is convicted of a crime, the Court can suspend the sentence and place the offender on probation to the Court or on formal probation. If Court probation is ordered, the defendant does not report to a Probation Officer. If formal probation is ordered, the Probation Department will monitor the defendant’s compliance with the Court’s orders. The Court can order the defendant to serve up to a year in the custody of the Sheriff as a condition of probation. While on probation the offender must obey all laws and follow the specific orders issued by the Court.
Q. What is a Probation Officer and what do they do?
A. A Probation Officer is someone who supervises a person who has been placed on probation. Some of the job duties include:
- Monitoring compliance with court orders.
- Assisting offenders in obtaining needed services.
- Overseeing the rehabilitation of the offenders.
- Conducting offender work and home visits.
- Administering drug tests.
- Providing support, other services, and help to victims in securing restitution.
Probation Officers must become competent in addressing the following issues: drug and alcohol abuse, sexual deviancy, child abuse, domestic violence, and mental illness.
Q. Who do Probation Officers work with?
A. The officers work hand in hand with community groups and social service agencies to provide offenders and victims with the support and services they need. Probation Officers maintain partnerships with law enforcement and other justice agencies so the agencies can benefit from the expertise of each other and share information on criminal activity.
Q. What is the difference between Probation and Parole?
A. Probation occurs when imposition of sentence is suspended or stayed. This is in lieu of a prison commitment. If prison is the sentence of the Court, the defendant serves a period of time in prison as opposed to spending time in County Jail (commonly called local time). Parole is a condition of early release from prison. There are usually a number of restrictions placed on the parolee and a Parole Officer closely supervises the parolee.
Q. What does the Probation Department do to protect the community from adult offenders?
A. The Probation Department has many types of supervision programs to monitor a defendant’s conduct. For example, if the defendant has a drug problem, the defendant could be referred to the PC1210.1 program. Whatever the type of supervision, the defendant is expected to abide by the conditions of probation that were set out by the Court. The frequency and method of Probation Officer contact with probationers depends on the seriousness of the offenses committed. If the defendant does not comply with probation conditions, probation can be revoked and the probationer can be sentenced to prison to serve the prison term that was suspended or stayed earlier.
Q. What weapons can I have in my possession if I am on probation in Kern County?
A. If you are on criminal probation for a felony, you cannot possess any firearm or any deadly or dangerous weapon. A deadly or dangerous weapon is any illegal weapon and may also include any knives or other weapons such as bow and arrow, crossbow, pellet gun, etc. If you are on probation for a misdemeanor, the weapons prohibition will depend on the particular crime for which you have been convicted. For example, probation for a spousal abuse conviction will carry much the same weapons prohibition as a felony conviction.
Q. If I am on formal probation with a condition for search and seizure, can you search me 24 hours a day, even at a friend’s house?
A. Yes, your person can be searched at anytime, anywhere. A Probation Officer or any law enforcement officer can also search your room, home, vehicle and space at your place of employment at any time. Your constitutional rights in regard to search and seizure is one of the rights waived in order to be granted probation by the Court.
Q. What is the difference between Court Probation, Summary Probation, Summary Court Probation and Formal Probation?
A. The first three mean exactly the same thing: on probation to the Court without the supervision of the Probation Officer. Formal probation is supervision by the Probation Officer on behalf of the Court.
Q. If I am on probation to another California county or another state can I report to the Kern County Probation Department for supervision on behalf of the other jurisdiction?
A. Courtesy supervision on behalf of another California county or a state via Interstate Compact cannot be established without a formal request by the jurisdiction in control of your case. It is safest for you to return to the County or State having jurisdiction of your case and remain there until formal supervision is established.
Q. How can I transfer my probation to another County? State?
A. The Probation Department may request another jurisdiction provide supervision of your case, courtesy supervision for another County or Interstate Compact for another State. You cannot, however, relocate to another County or State until your case has been accepted unless you were a resident of that County/State at the time you were arrested in Kern County. In any case, you must notify your Probation Officer of your desire to relocate/return to another County/State.
Q. Can my probation be terminated early?
A. Under very limited circumstances can your probation be terminated early. This also can only occur by order of the Court during a hearing. At the very minimum you must have all of your probation conditions satisfied, including all monies paid in full. Further, you must have complied fully with every condition of probation, and not had any sustained probation violations or committed any new crimes.
Q. I know my neighbor is on probation. What can you tell me about him?
A. The law prohibits the Probation Department from disclosing this information to you as a general rule. If the department determines this probationer is a threat to your personal safety, you may be advised of this threat. Megan’s Law determines that you may learn the identity of sex offenders within your neighborhood through the Sheriff’s or Police Departments.
Q. I know my ex-husband is on probation with you. Can you tell me where he is so I can collect child support?
A. The law prohibits the Probation Department from disclosing this information to you. You may contact the office of Child Support Services for assistance in obtaining child support.
Q. I have a child custody order that says my ex-husband must be drug tested before he can see the children. Will the Probation Department drug test him for me?
A. The department does not drug test anyone who is not on formal probation with a Court order to be tested by the department.
Q. How do I get my felony reduced to a misdemeanor?
A. This process under Section 17 of the California Penal Code can only happen if the sentence for the crime for which you were convicted can be either a felony or a misdemeanor sentence. If one can only be sentenced for a crime as a felony, it cannot be reduced to a misdemeanor. If the law allows your crime to be reduced to a misdemeanor, the Probation Department can petition the Court for this reduction on your behalf. As an alternative, you could use an attorney to provide this service for you.