Q. What is probation?
A. When convicted of a crime, the law says a person will be punished by serving time in prison or in the County Jail, depending on the offense. The Court has the option of “suspending” this time and placing you on probation. The Court will order you to abide by certain conditions while on probation, which might include serving part of your time in jail. “Suspended” means that if you successfully complete your probation term, you will not need to serve the remainder of your jail time or your prison term.
Q. How long will I be on Adult Probation?
A. The Court determines the period of probation at the time of sentencing. It usually does not surpass three years for misdemeanor offenses or five years for felony offenses.
Q. Why was I given probation when I said I did not want probation?
A. The judge has granted you probation as an alternative to the maximum penalty prescribed by law. Probation serves both you and the community in which you live. It is a means by which the Courts hold you accountable for the crime you have committed. It also serves as a mechanism to ensure that you are abiding by the laws and by the terms and conditions of probation relative to the crime for which you were convicted. Probation is a privilege granted by the Court which allows conditional freedom.
Q. How do I find out who my Deputy Probation Officer is?
A. Even though the Court instructs you to contact the Probation Department within 3 days, it almost always takes more than 3 days for your case to be assigned to the Deputy Probation Officer who will be supervising your case. You must contact the Probation Office within three days to get the paperwork started. After a week to 10 days, if you have not heard from your Deputy Probation Officer, it is your responsibility to get in touch with him or her. If you call Reception at 650-363-4244 after this amount of time, they should be able to tell you who your supervising officer will be. There are exceptions, when it may take more than 10 days for your case to be assigned due to paperwork issues.
This assumes you were placed on Supervised Probation. In many misdemeanor matters, the Court places you on "Court Probation" which means you are not assigned to a Deputy Probation Officer. In all felony matters in which you are granted probation, you will be assigned a Deputy Probation Officer. It is very important that you provide us with an accurate address and telephone information. If we cannot contact you or if you do not contact us, a bench warrant will be issued for your arrest.
Q. Why do I have drug testing orders?
A. Drug/alcohol testing will be ordered when the offense or your background shows drug/alcohol problems.
Q. What does "search and seizure" mean?
A. Search and seizure means that you must submit to being searched by any Deputy Probation Officer or Peace Officer. This includes your person, your vehicle or any area under your control, any time of day or night, with or without a warrant and without regard to probable cause. If contraband is found, it can be seized and used as evidence in a probation violation or new law violation.
Q. Why does the Probation Officer have to come to my house?
A. It is the Probation Officer’s responsibility to ensure you are in compliance with your probation conditions. Home visits are one of the tools that we use to learn more about you and to make sure you are abiding by your conditions of probation in your home.
Q. I want a new Probation Officer, how do I get someone different?
A. It is not generally our practice to change Probation Officers. If you have a legitimate complaint about the behavior of your Probation Officer, we encourage you to speak to your Probation Officer's Supervisor.
Q. What is a "suspended sentence"?
A. In most cases it means that the Judge is giving the defendant (probationer) one last chance to get things right and abide by all probation orders. If the defendant succeeds, probation terminates as ordered by the Court at the time of sentencing. If the defendant violates his/her probation, the suspended sentence will most likely be reinstated and whatever was suspended will now be imposed.
Q. Where is the Adult Division main office located?
A. The main office is located at 400 County Center, 5th Floor, Redwood City, CA 94063. For other office locations please see Offices and Hours.
Q. What is the difference between probation and parole?
A. People are put on probation directly from Court and after a conviction of a misdemeanor or felony offense. Some people who are released from prison are placed on parole. As of October 1, 2011 some people who are released from prison with non-violent, non-serious, non-sex offender convictions will return to probation to be supervised on Post Release Community Supervision. Also, as of October 1, 2011, others who are convicted of non-violent, non-serious, non-sex offender crimes in Court and sentenced to more than 1 year in jail instead of prison will be supervised by the Probation Department on Mandatory Community Supervision once they are released from jail.
Q. Once I have been convicted of a crime, is it possible to have my conviction expunged or have a felony conviction reduced to a misdemeanor?
A. Please click on Expungement Information for a response.
Q. What is Bridges?
A. Bridges is an intensive day treatment program run by the Probation Department, which addresses the many issues surrounding substance abuse and offending behavior. Bridges combines substance abuse treatment with educational and vocational training. While in the Bridges Program, participants learn how to maintain sobriety and basic life skills; these lessons will help participants become more productive members of society. Please Click on Bridges Program to learn more.
Q. Is Bridges for me?
A. Are you addicted to drugs or alcohol and want to seek treatment? Have you failed Drug Court or have you been arrested for a probation violation? Do you want to earn your G.E.D., learn job skills, or learn to use a computer? Do you want to get the help you need to turn your life around?
If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, then you may qualify to enter the Bridges Program.
Q. How much does it cost?
A. There is no charge for any of the services offered through the Bridges Program.
Q. How do I get into the Bridges Program?
A. Ask a Judge, Probation Officer, or Private Defender if you may join the Bridges Program instead of serving jail time. Participants attend treatment and educational classes during the day. At night, clients must stay in their own homes.
Q. How can I benefit from Bridges?
A. You will get reasoning & rehabilitation skills, drug & alcohol treatment, job search and resume writing skills, computer training, educational instruction/G.E.D., and life skills.
Q. What is the time commitment?
A. Bridges has two phases, which when combined last approximately one year.
Q. I need an application, where can I get one?
A. The Bridges Program Application can be viewed and printed from this website (Acrobat Reader is required). Once filled out, please mail the application to us or you may deliver it in person to our office. The office location can be found below.
Q. Where is Bridges located and how can I contact you?
A. Bridges is located at 680 Warren Street, Redwood City. The contact number is (650) 599-7336.
COMPUTER ASSISTED SUPERVISION TEAM (CAST)
Q. What is C.A.S.T.?
A. C.A.S.T. stands for Computer Assisted Supervision Team. Please go to C.A.S.T.'s webpage to learn more.
Q. I need phone numbers and office locations to Multiple Offender Programs. Where can I get that information?
A. Click on Multiple Offender Programs to see a list of contacts throughout the Bay Area.
Q. Where can I find Recovery Program Hotline information?
A. Our list of Recovery Program Hotlines includes phone numbers and websites.
Q. How do I sign up for domestic violence counseling?
A. If you have already been sentenced, you should have been given information on the approved programs in San Mateo County. Call one of those programs to make an appointment. They will be able to answer all of your questions about the program.
If you did not receive the form with information on these programs when you were in Court, you may obtain a copy at any of the Adult Probation offices or click here.
If you live in another county, contact the Probation Department in your county to find out what agencies have been certified in that county. Then contact any of those agencies to make an appointment.
Q. What if I do not have the money to pay for domestic violence counseling?
A. It is your responsibility to attend and pay for classes. Please contact the program regarding a reduction of fees or speak to the Judge about your financial situation at the next progress report.
Q. Can I attend more than one session of domestic violence counseling per week and complete the program sooner?
A. No, the law states that you must attend for 52 weeks.
Q. Where can I get a list of domestic violence treatment programs within San MateoCounty?
A. You may come to our office to get a list of available treatment programs or you may download it from this site.
Q. What if the victim calls you and lies about me?
A. We will look into every situation that is reported and assess the evidence provided. It is important that you are honest with your Deputy Probation Officer at all times so they can provide you with the services you need. The victim is not on probation so we do not have the authority to address their behavior.
Q. When I have a no contact order, how do I get that changed to a no harassment order?
A. The judge is the only person who can change a no contact order to a no harassment order. In domestic violence cases, the judge will usually wait until the defendant has started domestic violence counseling and shown that they will abide by their conditions of probation, before he or she is willing to modify the no contact order. Then both the victim and the defendant must agree that they want the no contact order modified. It is then up to the Deputy Probation Officer to make a recommendation one way or the other.
Q. What happens if the victim contacts the defendant?
A. The victim cannot be in violation of the no contact order. Even if the victim contacts the defendant, the defendant is still required to have no contact with the victim and can be arrested and/or have their probation violated if they do not terminate a phone call or walk away.
Q. I am on probation for domestic violence when in fact I am the victim; what recourse do I have?
A. Once you are convicted of a crime, even one in which you believe you are a victim, you must follow the conditions set forth by the Court. Close supervision of your situation will ultimately serve as a means to reveal your circumstances as they truly are. Hopefully, your good conduct while on probation will help you prevail through gaining the proper assistance provided by treatment and counseling.
Q. How often do I have to see my Probation Officer?
A. Your Probation Officer will see you based on the seriousness of the offense and your performance on probation. If you are doing well, he/she will consider less frequent appointments.
Q. Can I consume alcohol?
A. No, not if your probation conditions state that you may not consume alcohol.
Q. Who is doing the investigation on my case?
A. The investigator will contact you either by mail or telephone. You may also call the front desk at (650) 363-4244 and someone will answer any questions you may have or transfer your call to someone who can.
Q. Why am I being referred to the Probation Department's Adult Division Investigation Services?
A. Most cases are referred here because the Court would like more information in order to make appropriate decisions on each case.
Q. How long will the investigation procedure take?
A. The investigation procedure normally takes 28 days, but the Court can extend or shorten it.
Q. Will my employer be notified?
A. It depends on your case. You may ask your Deputy Probation Officer once you have one assigned to your case.
Q. When will I find out who will be my Probation Officer?
A. You will find out after sentencing. You will probably get something in the mail, so make sure the Probation Department has your current mailing address.
Q. Is there a form or application to be filled out?
A. Yes, the Application for Probation - Deferred Entry of Judgment/Mental Health Diversion, will need to be completed. A Spanish version, Solicitud Para Libertad Condicional - Programa de Fallo de Juicio Diferido/Program Alternativo de Salud Mental, is also available.
Q. Is it necessary to fill out the entire application?
A. Yes, please fill out the entire application. By doing so, you will save time during your interview and a better picture of your case can be presented to the Judge, which can be to your advantage.
Q. How binding on probation are plea bargain agreements negotiated by my attorney with the Court and the District Attorney's Office?
A. Plea negotiations are considered, but not binding. The Probation Department submits a recommendation to the Court for sentencing based on various factors, including the law, severity of the offense, prior criminal history, acknowledgement of wrongdoing, remorse, attitude and cooperation, social history, public safety, etc.
Q. What do I need to bring to my presentence interview?
A. Please bring the following items to your presentence interview:
Completed probation application
Proof of residence
Proof of employment/verification of income or financial support
Proof of medical or mental illness
Valid driver's license or state identification card
Proof of US citizenship or immigration status
Two or three character reference letters
Q. What is the difference between my Pretrial Deputy Probation Officer and my Investigation Deputy Probation Officer?
A. You report to your Pretrial Deputy Probation Officer while you are released on Supervised Own Recognizance and criminal proceedings are pending. Their job is to ensure that you make your next Court appearance.
You contact and report to your Investigation Deputy Probation Officer following a referral to the Probation Department for a presentence report. Your Investigation Deputy Probation Officer will interview you and prepare a presentence report for sentencing.
Q. Does the Probation Department have a list of Bay Area Licensed Residential Treatment Programs?
A. Yes, a list of Bay Area Licensed Residential Treatment Programs is available. Please check with your Deputy Probation Officer for approved programs.
Q. What is Pretrial Services?
A. Pretrial Services provides the Court with information about defendants and ensures defendants make their Court appearances.
Q. How long am I on Supervised Own Recognizance (O.R.) or Pretrial?
A. Until you are sentenced.
Q. I am not sentenced, so I do not understand what I am doing here. Am I on Probation?
A. No, you are not on Probation until you are sentenced. The Judge has released you on a Supervised Own Recognizance (O.R.) or Pretrial release. This ensures that you will return to Court.
DEFERRED ENTRY OF JUDGMENT
Q. What is Deferred Entry of Judgment (DEJ)?
A. The Deferred Entry of Judgment Program places defendants who are appropriate candidates on a minimum of 18 months of supervision that includes referrals to approved treatment programs. During their period of probation, the defendant is directed to submit to drug testing, pay Court ordered fines and abstain from all controlled substances.
Q. Will the charges be removed from my record?
A. No, the charges will not be removed from your record, but they may be dismissed. A defendant's record will show the arrest, but after successful completion, the disposition will read "Successful Completion of DEJ".
Q. Can I do a drug rehabilitation program outside of San MateoCounty?
A. Yes, you may do a drug rehabilitation program outside of San Mateo County on a case by case basis, as long as the program is certified PC1000.
Q. What is Drug Court?
A. Drug Court is an alternative to traditional criminal justice prosecution for drug-related offenses. Drug Court(s) combine the close supervision of the judicial process with resources available through alcohol and drug treatment services.
Q. What is the San MateoCounty's Drug Court philosophy?
A. The San Mateo County Drug Court addresses the needs of nonviolent drug offenders. This specialized Court includes a courtroom-based team approach with a strong judicial leadership role in the processing and treatment of drug cases. With the Judge acting as team leader, probation officers, prosecutors, defense attorneys, and treatment professionals work collaboratively to develop a strategy that is in the interests of both the defendant and society.
Q. What is the Initial Screening?
A. Shortly after being booked into the San Mateo County Jail, an investigator will speak with you to determine if you meet the eligibility requirements for the San Mateo County Drug Court. After speaking with you and reviewing your criminal history, the O.R. Caseworker will tell you about the Drug Court and how it works.
Q. What are status hearings?
A. You will be required to appear at a status hearing from a weekly basis to a monthly basis. At this hearing, your Deputy Probation Officer, the District Attorney, your attorney, and an Alcohol and Drug Abuse Service Intervention Specialist will inform the Court of your progress and your compliance with program rules. Based upon the report of the team, the Court may make changes to your treatment requirements as needed.
Q. What are the reasons for excluding defendants from Drug Court?
A. Someone may be excluded from participating in the Drug Court if, after reviewing their criminal history, arrest report, and O.R. report, the District Attorney determines that they are not a candidate for Drug Court. Additionally, they may be excluded if they have been charged with drug sales, possession for sale, have a violent or serious felony conviction per 1192.7 PC, have been convicted of 273.5 (domestic violence) within the past three years, or have a past conviction or charge involving the use or possession of a firearm, death or great bodily injury to a person, force against a person, or one or more felony convictions where force was used with intent to cause death or serious bodily harm.
Q. What are the Drug Court Program rules?
A. All Drug Court participants must:
Appear in Court as scheduled
Attend all ordered treatment sessions
Be on time
Not make threats against other participants or staff, or behave in a violent manner
Not possess or use any drugs, alcohol, or weapons.
Q. What are treatment expectations?
A. A treatment plan will be developed by the Treatment Team (Probation Officer and Drug Abuse Service Intervention Specialist) and approved by the Drug Court Judge. Treatment will include a combination of alcohol and drug resources, drug education, literacy training, acupuncture, group counseling, employment training, and/or any other services needed by you to help you improve your life and become drug free.
Q. What are sanctions?
A. Sanctions are consequences for violating your conditions of probation. Violations may include, but are not limited to:
Positive test results from the urine drug screen
Failure to attend class or counseling sessions
Failure to comply with individual contract requirements and/or
Rearrested for a new drug offense.
Once a violation has occurred, sanctions could include one or more of the following:
Community service work
Time in a detoxification program
Placement in another drug/alcohol treatment program
Termination of participation, and/or
Reinstatement of criminal proceedings.
Q. Will I be drug testing?
A. Yes! Drug testing results will be used to assist the Court and treatment providers in evaluating your progress. It will also be used to assist in determining whether you should be terminated or graduated from the Drug Court Program. Failure or refusal to provide a drug test sample as scheduled or requested will be considered a "dirty test".
Q. How do I graduate?
A. You must fulfill all of the requirements of your treatment plan. You must be drug free for a minimum of six months (three months in Phase II and three months in Phase III). Upon completion of all Program requirements, you will attend a graduation ceremony and receive a certificate of completion from the Drug Court Judge.
Q. What is Proposition 36 (Prop 36)?
A. The Substance Abuse and Crime Prevention Act, also known as Proposition 36, was passed by 61% of California voters on November 7, 2000. This initiative allows, but is not limited to first- and second-time, non-violent, simple drug possession offenders the opportunity to receive substance abuse treatment instead of incarceration.
Q. What type of offenses qualify and which one do not?
Non-violent drug possessions offenses such as:
Sales/transportation of controlled substances
Being under the influence
Possession of a controlled substance
Possession of paraphernalia
Presence during unlawful use
Possession of dangerous drugs without prescription
Possession of hypodermic needle
Possession for sale
Sale/transportation for sale
Any defendant "While using a firearm, unlawfully possesses" a controlled substance
Any defendant who refuses drug treatment
Any defendant convicted of crimes listed in Penal Code Section 667.5
Is found to be not amenable to "any and all forms of available drug treatment"
Q. What are the conditions of Probation while under Proposition 36?
A. There are mandatory, discretionary, and prohibited conditions of probation while under Proposition 36.
- Participation in and completion of a drug treatment program not exceeding 12 months in duration. PC 1210.1(a)
- Up to six months additional aftercare drug treatment services. PC 1210.1(c)(3)
- Vocational training, family counseling, literacy training, or community service. PC 1210.1(a)
- Payment of costs of placement in drug treatment program. PC 1210.1(a)
- Any other lawful condition of probation. PC 1210.1(a)
- Jail time. PC1210.1(a)
- Participation in a treatment program offered in a prison or jail facility. PC 1210(b)
Q. What are the Probation violations?
A. Probation violations include non-drug related violations as well as drug related violations.
Non-Drug-Related Violations - If the defendant commits an offense other than a nonviolent drug possession offense or violates a non-drug-related condition of probation,
probation may be modified or revoked if the alleged violation is proved. If probation is revoked, the defendant may be sentenced under otherwise applicable law. PC 1210.1(e)(1)
Drug-Related Violations - If the defendant commits a nonviolent drug possession offense or violated a drug-related condition of probation:
1st violation - probation shall be revoked if the alleged violation is proven and the
Court finds by a preponderance of the evidence that the defendant poses a danger to the safety of others. PC 1210.1(e)(3)(A)
2nd violation - probation shall be revoked if the alleged violation is proven and the Court finds by preponderance of the evidence either that the defendant poses a danger to others or that the defendant is unable to complete drug treatment. PC 1210.1(e)(3)(B).
To determine amenability, the Court may consider whether the defendant:
- has committed a serious violation of the rules at the drug treatment program
- has repeatedly violated program rules so as to inhibit the defendant's ability to function in the program
- has continually refused to participate in the program; or
- has asked to be removed from the program PC 1210.1(e)(3)(B)
3rd violation - probation shall be revoked if the alleged violation is proven and the defendant is no longer eligible for Proposition 36 probation. PC 1210.1(e)(3)(C)
If the program is revoked, the defendant may be sentenced under otherwise applicable law. If probation is not revoked, the court may alter or intensify the defendant's drug treatment plan. PC 1210.1(e)(2)(A) & (B)
Q. What do nonviolent drug possessions violations include?
A. Nonviolent drug possessions violations include:
The unlawful possession, use, or transportation for personal use of any controlled substance listed in Health and Safety Code 11054, 11054, 11055, 11056, 11057, and 11058; and the offense of being under the influence of a controlled substance in violation of Health and Safety Code 11550 PC 1210(a). The term does not include possession for sale, production, or manufacturing of any controlled substance. PC 1210(2).
Q. Can I have the charge removed from my record?
A. Yes you can, after successfully completing probation. Arrangements are made with your attorney thereafter.
Q. Do I have to do all this? Can't I just serve my time?
A. Yes, you may just serve your time. Participation in Proposition 36 is a voluntary alternative to jail. You have the options of opting out and serving your time at any time. The sentences vary. It is recommended that you contact your attorney to make arrangements.
Q. How long do I have to be in treatment?
A. The length of your treatment depends on your case. Assessments are completed and a decision is made based on the information gained in those assessments. Some people will be in treatment for a year and others six months. The minimum amount of time required in outpatient is six months. Residential treatment is for those with severe problems.
Q. How early can I terminate?
A. Termination can happen in a year; it is up to the Judge. But generally, it is eighteen months to three years.
Q. Will the charges be dismissed?
A. Yes, charges can be dismissed at termination, but a request must be submitted by a lawyer.