About Probation

The U.S. Probation and Pretrial Services System carries out probation and pretrial services functions in the U.S. district courts. Through its officers and other employees, the system works to make the criminal justice process effective and the public safe.

Find information about the different programs and services in the Town of Smyrna.

Pretrial

Pretrial is the time period after an individual has been arrested but before they have been convicted of a crime. During this time period, a pretrial services officer will gather information about the defendant through interviews and record checks. The pretrial services officer reports the information to the judge, so the judge can decide whether the defendant can be released on pretrial supervision or should be detained.

At a detention hearing, the judge will decide whether or not to grant pretrial release. If the defendant is granted pretrial release, the pretrial services officer will supervise the defendant to ensure they are not a danger to another person or the community, the conditions of their release are met, and they attend all required court hearings.

Pretrial supervision ends if the defendant is found not guilty at trial or the charges are dropped against him or her. If the defendant is found guilty or pleads guilty, the pretrial services officer will typically continue supervising the defendant until their sentence begins. Pretrial supervision usually lasts a few months, during which time a probation officer may start the defendant's presentence investigation.

Presentence Investigation

After a defendant enters a plea of guilty to a federal offense or is convicted by trial, he or she will meet with a probation officer. Typically at the initial meeting, the probation officer will conduct an interview with the defendant to gather the follow information:

  • family history

  • community ties

  • education background

  • employment history

  • physical health

  • mental and emotional health

  • history of substance abuse, financial condition, and

  • willingness to accept responsibility for his or her offense(s)

During the presentence investigation, a probation officer may interview other persons who can provide pertinent information, including the prosecutor, law enforcement agents, victims, mental health and substance abuse treatment providers, and the defendant’s family members, associates and employer. The officer will also review numerous documents, which may include, court dockets, indictments, plea agreements, trial transcripts, investigative reports from other law enforcement agencies, criminal history records, counseling and substance abuse treatment records, scholastic records, employment records, and financial records.

  

Supervision

Supervision occurs after offenders have pled guilty or been tried and found guilty and after they've been released from incarceration.

The court will sentence a defendant to probation or to a term of incarceration followed by a term of supervised release. Probation is a court ordered sentence issued as an alternative to jail or prison. Individuals under supervision (probation or supervised release) are assigned to a probation officer who is responsible for monitoring offenders and ensuring they comply with the conditions ordered by the court and obey laws.

Supervision in the federal system is:

  • A core responsibility of U.S. probation and pretrial services officers, along with investigation.

  • A way to monitor the activities and behavior of people released to the community by the federal courts or paroling authorities.

  • An opportunity to help offenders reintegrate into the community.

  • In the case of probation, a punishment that is less severe than imprisonment, but still holds people accountable for breaking the law.

  • An alternative to jail or prison that costs less than incarceration and gives people charged with or convicted of federal crimes the opportunity to live with their families, hold jobs, and be productive members of society.

                            Process of Supervision

The process of supervising an offender begins with a probation officer evaluating the offender through an interview and risk assessment tool, which allows the officer to identify factors that must be taken into account in developing the offender’s individualized supervision plan. From the start and throughout supervision, the officer will assess and reassess the potential risk that an offender poses to another person or the community, and address the offender's other needs. Continued assessments allow the probation officer to adjust his or her personal contact and interventions with the offender accordingly. The supervision plan developed by the officer will address any obstacles that may impede an offender’s ability or desire to complete supervision successfully and will provide for services, such as substance abuse or mental health treatment that the offender may require.

Condition of Supervision

These are the standard conditions of supervision or probation the Court must impose. This does not include special conditions the court may impose.

  • The defendant shall not leave the judicial district without the permission of the court or probation officer.

  • The defendant shall report to the probation officer in a manner and frequency directed by the court or probation officer.

  • The defendant shall answer truthfully all inquiries by the probation officer and follow the instructions of the probation officer.

  • The defendant shall support his or her dependents and meet other family responsibilities.

  • The defendant shall work regularly at a lawful occupation unless excused by the probation officer for schooling, training, or other acceptable reasons.

  • The defendant shall notify the probation officer at least ten days prior to any change in residence or employment.

  • The defendant shall refrain from excessive use of alcohol and shall not purchase, possess, use, distribute, or administer any controlled substance or any paraphernalia related to any controlled substance, except as prescribed by a physician.

  • The defendant shall not frequent places where controlled substances are illegally sold, used, distributed, or administered.

  • The defendant shall not associate with any persons engaged in criminal activity and shall not associate with any person convicted of a felony, unless granted permission to do so by the probation officer.

  • The defendant shall permit a probation officer to visit him or her at any time at home or elsewhere and shall permit confiscation of any contraband observed in plain view of the probation officer.

  • The defendant shall notify the probation officer within 72 hours of being arrested or questioned by a law enforcement officer.

  • The defendant shall not enter into any agreement to act as an informer or a special agent of a law enforcement agency without the permission of the court.

  • As directed by the probation officer, the defendant shall notify third parties of risks due to the defendant’s criminal record or personal history or characteristics and shall permit the probation officer to make such notifications and to the defendant's compliance with such notification requirement.  

Resentencing

Resentencing may occur to adjust a criminal sentence pursuant to a federal statute or rule, a remand on appeal, or to correct an error with the original judgment.

Offenders can be sentenced to additional incarceration, home confinement, or other conditions if they violate the court-ordered conditions of their supervison or probation.  

Offender Reentry

Offender reentry is the transition period when an offender is released from incarceration back into the community. During this transition, a probation officer is assigned to supervise and monitor the offender. Probation officers develop a supervision plan for each offender that addresses the client's needs and satisfies the conditions of their release.

Probation officers play a vital role in making the transition successful by providing resources such as access to treatment centers, employment, related assistance, and education.

Many districts offer local access to reentry programs to assist offenders.

© 2017 by Tennessee Court Services, LLC.

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