Probation in New York: How it works

Probation in New York: How it works

Probation is a disposition or sentence imposed by a New York criminal court, whereby you are released without serving any time in jail, although in some circumstances you could be sentenced to both imprisonment and probation. The term is sometimes confused with parole, which is when you serve part of your sentence in the community after a period of incarceration.

The courts are more inclined to grant probation if you do not  pose a risk to the general public and it appears that you could benefit from the associated guidance. Probation may also be granted to those who are assisting with a drug-related felony investigation or prosecution.

Probation conditions for convicted offenders

Probation gives convicted offenders the chance to rejoin the community and do better this time. In exchange for this second chance, you are required to obey certain rules during your probationary period. Depending on your original offense, these conditions could include:

  • Finding employment
  • No contact with known criminals
  • Staying away from high-crime areas
  • Performing community service
  • Keeping a curfew
  • Paying restitution to your victims
  • Passing drug tests
  • Attending substance abuse counseling

Length of probationary period

How long you must remain on probation will depend on the original offense. NYPL 65.00 prescribes the following probation sentences:

  • Unclassified Misdemeanor: one year if the original sentence was less than three months. Otherwise two or three years.
  • Class B Misdemeanor: one year unless the offense was public lewdness, in which case the period is extended up to three years.
  • Class A Misdemeanor: one to three years. The exception is sexual assault, which is extended to six years.
  • Felonies: Most felonies carry a three- to five-year probation period. The exceptions include sexual assault (10 years) and certain drug crimes that are class A felonies (up to 25 years).

Probation violations: What happens?

If your probation officer believes or has reason to suspect that you have breached the conditions of your probation, then they can file a Violation of Probation (VOP) with the court. There are two types of violations:

  •      Technical: failure to observe a required protocol, such as attending drug counseling or report to your probation officer.
  •      Substantive: covers major violations such as committing a new offense.

You will be notified of the allegations and required to attend a VOP hearing, usually before the same judge who passed your original sentence. If you fail to appear, then a bench warrant may be issued for your arrest. After the hearing concludes, your probation will continue under its current terms, be modified, or revoked. In the latter case, you will be sent to prison to serve the mandated sentence for the original crime.

If you are accused of a probation violation, you could lose your freedom, so don’t take any chances. For a free consultation related to a probation violation offense, contact the Law Offices of Julie Rendelman, LLC at 212-951-1232. Ms. Rendelman has over 20 years of legal experience and will fight to disprove the allegations against you so that you don’t lose the benefits you were fortunate enough to gain.