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County of Sonoma Probation Department
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County of Sonoma Probation Department

Frequently Asked Questions

Adult Probation

What is Probation?

Probation is a privilege, not a right. It is a grant of community supervision that is imposed as a structured consequence, or in lieu of a state prison sentence. When an adult offender is convicted of a crime, the Court has the option to suspend a custody sentence and place the offender on informal probation to the Court, or on formal probation. If court probation is ordered, the defendant does not report to a Probation Officer. When formal probation is ordered, the Probation Department monitors the defendant in the community and supervises his/her compliance with the Court's conditions. By law, an offender may be required to serve up to one year in the county jail as a condition of probation.

What is the difference between Probation and Parole?

Probation is a sentencing alternative that allows offenders to be supervised in the community, with the imposition of their state sentence suspended or stayed. State parole is the early release from a state prison sentence. When offenders serve a state prison sentence, they are released onto parole and supervised by state parole officers.

What does the Probation Department do to protect the community from the adult offender?

The goal of the Probation Department is to enhance public safety. This is done by offering a continuum of services that provide the least restrictive means of gaining compliance in the community. The Department works closely with offenders to identify and address the areas that create risk for further criminal conduct, and build on the strengths that promote self-sufficiency. Probation Officers assist offenders in setting productive goals, such as finding stable housing, meaningful employment, and abstinence from drugs and alcohol. Probation Officers monitor a defendant's conduct in the community and provide linkages to resources that will enhance the likelihood of success. The frequency and method of Probation Officer contact with probationers depends on the seriousness of the offenses committed and the risks and needs of the probationer. If the offender does not comply with probation conditions, his/her probation can be modified to require increased participation in community treatment programs, and/or revoked with a county jail or state prison sentence. The Probation Department works collaboratively with local law enforcement agencies, ensuring the timely arrest of high risk offenders and participating on special narcotic and gang task force operations. Alternatives to incarceration include Supervised Electronic Monitoring (SEC), Work Release, Work Furlough, and Supervised Adult Crews (SAC).

How do I make an appointment with my Probation Officer?

To make an appointment with your Probation Officer, you should give him/her a call. If you do not have your Probation Officer's number, call the Probation Department switchboard at (707) 565-2149.

How do I schedule an appointment for an interview regarding the pre-sentence report?

To make an interview appointment with your Probation Officer, you should call the Probation Department switchboard at (707) 565-2149.

How will I be notified of future court dates?

Notification will be by mail or by telephone.

I am a protected person because of a Restraining Order. What do I do if I have been contacted by the probationer/defendant?

If you believe you are in immediate danger call 9-1-1. If you believe the defendant or offender has violated a condition of release, follow up with a phone call to the assigned Probation Officer. The Probation Department's phone number is 707-565-2149.

How do I get off probation before the expiration date?

In order to qualify for early termination, you must have complied with all terms and conditions of probation, completed at least half of your probation term, and have had no probation violations that resulted in additional jail time. Restitution must be paid in full. You can seek early termination via your attorney or Probation Officer, who can decide whether to submit a request to the Court, or require a court appearance.

Can I travel or move out of the county, state or country?

Probationers must notify their Probation Officer and obtain prior approval before traveling to another state or country. Approval will depend on the circumstance of your case and your progress on probation. If authorized, the Probation Officer will issue a travel permit. In order to relocate to another state, you must obtain approval from your Probation Officer, the State of California, and the receiving state via the Interstate Compact process.

What happens if I can not pay my court ordered restitution, fines and fees?

You may request a temporary monthly payment reduction with the approval of your Probation Officer. Making monthly payments based upon the established ability to pay will ensure that you are not placed in violation status.

Can I convert the money I owe to jail time or community work service (CWS)?

Statutory fines may be converted to CWS or jail time at the discretion of the Court. Restitution and all other fines and fees are not convertible. The purpose of paying restitution is to make the victim whole and enhance the offender's understanding of the harm they have caused.

How do I clear a warrant?

Contact your attorney or turn yourself in to a law enforcement agency or to Probation.

Can probationer's vote?

In California, probationers have the right to vote while on probation. You must be a United States citizen, a resident of California, and at least 18 years old. To vote in the next election, you must register to vote at least 15 days before the election.

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Supervised Adult Crews

What is Supervised Adult Crews?

Supervised Adult Crews (SAC) is a jail alternative program for sentenced offenders within the County of Sonoma judicial system. This program allows people with up to a maximum of a 90 day sentence to work their time off on a work crew, instead of going to jail for their sentence.

What kind of work would I have to do?

The SAC program performs many different types of work for government, municipal and non-profit agencies. The types of tasks required may vary from cutting brush, digging trenches, installing irrigation or picking up trash, all the way to painting buildings, pouring concrete, building structures, or historical renovation.

What kind of projects has SAC done?

SAC has built many of the trails that are within Sonoma County Regional Parks and the California State Parks in Sonoma and Marin Counties. If you have walked a trail in Sonoma or Marin County, there is a high probability that SAC has worked on it. SAC replaced and upgraded the sidewalks and parking at the entrance to the Sonoma County Airport to meet ADA requirements. SAC crews perform recycling in many state, county and city parks.SAC crews have been involved in many historical renovations and parks repair projects in Sonoma, Marin, Napa, Solano and Lake Counties.

Are there SAC inmate offenders working in my local parks or community?

As SAC works in all communities in the Sonoma County area, there may be a SAC crew working in or near yours. All SAC crews are supervised by a sworn Peace Officer, trained in inmate control and positive motivation techniques. All SAC crew members are pre-screened and classified as low-risk offenders.

Do I have to work the entire sentence in straight days with no breaks?

No, the SAC program is designed to work with an individual's available schedule, within reason.

For example: if a person is sentenced to 30 days in jail, that person may work their sentence off by working 30 consecutive Thursdays; or 30 Saturdays; or 30 Mondays. 1 work day = 1 sentenced day. The idea is for the person to be able to continue to maintain their job, their home, continue to pay taxes and be a productive member of society and their community, but still be able to pay back their debt to society in a productive and positive manner.

Do I have to take the SAC time? Or can I just go to jail?

SAC is a jail alternative that is offered, not imposed.

How can the County justify the use of offender labor for County work projects?

The State of California has a provision within the Penal Code, PC 4024.2, which allows for sentenced offenders to perform work during their incarceration. As this is a jail alternative, the offenders that take advantage of this program do so of their own free will. The alternative is to do their sentence in jail.

How long is the SAC workday?

The work crews start at 8:00 a.m. and are done by 4:30 p.m. With a 30 minute lunch break, this makes for an 8 hour workday. The Penal Code states that the work day shall be a minimum of 8 hours and a maximum of 10 hours.

How can I get on a SAC crew?

When the Court imposes a sentence on a criminal offender, the Court considers the crime, the offender's past history and recommendations from the Probation Officer. If these all suggest a positive outcome for the offender rather than going to jail, the court can offer the SAC program as an alternative.

Do I have to provide my own lunch, tools, transportation?

Each person must supply their own lunch for the day they work and will be provided a lunch break. Each person must provide their own work clothes. Each person must provide their own transportation to a pre-arranged meeting place, where they will meet and then be transported to the jobsite by SAC staff in a County vehicle. Most SAC crews meet at the County Center in Santa Rosa at 300 Fiscal Drive. SAC provides the tools and equipment for the project/task assigned each day.

How could I hire a SAC crew to work for me?

The SAC program can only contract with government, municipal and/or non-profit agencies. Contact the Division Director or a Field Supervisor for more information about crew costs, capabilities and scheduling.

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Juvenile Probation - Frequently Asked Questions

What if my child is arrested?

If a minor is arrested and taken to Juvenile Hall, an Intake Probation Officer will contact you to ask your assistance in assessing the minor for further detention. The minor will be scheduled to appear for a Detention Hearing two to three days following his/her incarceration at Juvenile Hall.

What if my child is issued a citation to appear?

The minor will be given a date and time to appear at the Probation Department for an appointment with an Intake Probation Officer, or you will be contacted by mail. At that time, the minor may be referred to diversionary services or may be referred to the Juvenile Court for formal proceedings.

What if I have a court date scheduled, but I cannot make it?

If you are unable to appear in Court on a probation matter, or any other matter, contact (707) 565-6305. Failure to make contact and explain your non-appearance may result in the issuance of a bench warrant.

What happens if my child is convicted of a crime?

Generally speaking, when a juvenile petition is sustained, the Court will refer the minor to the Probation Department for preparation of a Disposition report. You can expect a telephone call from the assigned Investigations Probation Officer within three days of your appearance in Court. Also, the Probation Officer assigned to the Courtroom will provide you with two documents. One is a blue sheet that needs to be completed, front and back, immediately, and provided to the receptionist. The second is a white, three page packet that needs to be completed as thoroughly as possible prior to your interview with the assigned Probation Officer.

When will a Probation Officer contact me?

A Probation Officer will contact a new probationer and his/her family ten days to two weeks after disposition. At that time, a “sign up” or assessment interview will be scheduled with the minor and his/her parent, to review the Court order and answer any questions.

What if I don't know the name of my child's assigned Probation Officer?

For any information about the minor's Probation case, contact the Probation Department's Juvenile Division at 565-6229 during regular business hours, and ask to speak to the Officer of the Day, who will assist you.

What are alternatives to incarceration?

The Probation Department provides two programs specifically designed to act as alternatives to incarceration. The first is Community Detention. This program utilizes an electronic ankle bracelet to monitor a participant's movements. The second option is Juvenile Hall time served on the weekends, or on Weekend Work Crew.

What if my child is on probation, and I suspect he/she is violating the Court order?

Contact the Probation Department immediately. Advise them of your child’s name and if you know, your child’s Probation Officer. We understand that this may be a difficult decision to make, but it is truly in your child’s best interests that you make contact with the Probation Department as soon as you learn of a possible violation.

How long does probation last?

Probation can range from a minimum of six months for less serious offenses to a longer period as determined by the youth's behavior. In most cases probation will not continue past the youth's eighteenth birthday. In some cases, the Court can maintain the youth on probation until he/she reaches twenty-one years of age.

Are there programs I can participate in to help with the rehabilitative process?

Yes! There are many parent groups available for probationers’ parents/guardian. Ask the minor’s Probation Officer for a current list of programs available in your geographic area.

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Juvenile Hall

What is the purpose of Juvenile Hall?

The purpose of Juvenile Hall is to provide safe, temporary custody of minors in accordance with Juvenile Court Law while they complete the Court process, wait to go to placements or serve time ordered by the Court.

I was notified by law enforcement that my child was arrested and taken to Juvenile Hall. What happens next?

If your child is booked into Juvenile Hall, a Detention Risk Assessment will be completed to determine whether he/she will remain detained or be released pending further action. If it is determined that your child meets the criteria to be released, you will be contacted. If detained, a court date will be set within 72 hours (not including weekends or holidays). In this case, you will be notified of the hearing date.

Law Enforcement told me that I can pick up my child at Juvenile Hall, is this true?

If it is determined that your child can be released, you will be notified of when to pick up your child.

What types of Programming services will my child receive at Juvenile Hall?

Juvenile Hall provides a wide array of programming for its residents. First and foremost, residents receive schooling year-round, provided by the Sonoma County Office of Education (SCOE). Through Juvenile Hall, all residents are offered or receive Drug and Alcohol Education, Mental Health Services, Spiritual Advising, library services, Independent Living Skills classes, Arts and Crafts, group counseling specific to gender, Anger Management classes, Narcotics Anonymous, a Self Esteem curriculum, Teen Assault Prevention curriculum and a variety of programs that are meant to educate, reduce recidivism, expose the residents to new activities or simply to entertain. Other programs include Tai Chi, Zumba, painting, gardening, music and dramatic performances, guest speakers and creative writing.

What is Community Detention?

Community Detention is a program that allows minors who meet certain criteria to remain in their home on an electronic monitoring system. Minors are supervised by Probation Staff and depending on what level of Community Detention a minor is on, he/ she may be able to attend school or work, and fulfill their obligations to serve Community Service hours in the community.

What type of mail may my child receive at Juvenile Hall?

Standard mail may be sent to residents of Juvenile Hall. However, inappropriate material will be returned to the sender. Standard post cards, holiday or birthday cards will generally be accepted. However, cards which contain music chips, hard metal or plastic components or stickers applied to them may be returned to sender. Mail containing appropriate photographs will be accepted. The Juvenile Hall mailing address is "Your Child's Name" - 7425 Rancho Los Guilicos, Dept. A, Santa Rosa, California 95409.

Can I visit my child?

Every resident is afforded an opportunity for two hours of visiting per week. They are scheduled in two, one (1) hour time slots at points throughout the week, based on the Housing Unit to which your child is assigned. You will be notified by phone of your child's Housing Unit assignment and visitation times. Parents and/or Legal Guardians with a photo identification are allowed to visit. Every visitor is required to pass a metal detector prior to being allowed in the visitation area. No items may be brought into the visitation area to be given to your child.

Who provides education services and how does the system work?

Sonoma County Office of Education (SCOE) provides education to residents at Juvenile Hall. Students attend school 5 hours per day, 5 days a week, year round. They receive traditional instruction in English, History, Science, Math, and Physical Education and earn high school credits. If you have questions regarding how many credits your child has earned while at Juvenile Hall, contact SCOE at 565-2876.

My child has medical issues. How is he/she going to be cared for medically?

When being admitted, minors are asked a series of medical questions. Health Services staff reviews this document and completes a medical intake assessment on every minor who is booked and detained. This process includes a health history and an assessment of whether immediate medical attention is required. If your child has medical issues or is taking a medication, you can contact the Health Services Department at 565-6344.

Who can I contact about the bill for the time my child was at Juvenile Hall?

Please contact the Probation Department's Accounting division at 565-3810.

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Sierra Youth Center

What is Sierra Youth Center?

The Sierra Youth Center is a residential treatment program for girls ages 12-18 adjudicated by the Juvenile Court. The program has a residential portion, and an aftercare component.

What is your visitation policy?

Visitation takes place on Sundays 6-7:30 p.m. On Wednesday, immediate family have the opportunity to have a visit as a reward for attending the Sierra Youth Center parent support group. The parent support group takes place 6-7p.m., and they may visit on or off the unit from 7-8:30p. Family members between the ages of 13-20 are not allowed to visit on the unit.

My child was committed to Sierra. When will she transfer from Juvenile Hall to Sierra?

Girls committed to Sierra will be placed on a list according to commitment date and behavior while in Juvenile Hall. They stay in Juvenile Hall after commitment for a minimum of two weeks. The average length of time to transfer to Sierra is approximately one month. Girls may stay longer in Juvenile Hall if Sierra does not have available beds.

What is the time commitment at Sierra?

The residential portion of the program ranges from 6 to 12 months depending on how the girl progresses in the program. The aftercare portion of the program also ranges from 6 to 12 months.

What is required of the parents/guardians while the youth is in Sierra?

Parents' participation is very important. The program requires that the parents participate in parenting classes, family therapy, if applicable, and are expected to provide transportation for outside activities. Such activities and appointments might include NA meetings, doctor's visits, DMV appointments, outside therapy, school appointments, etc. In addition, parents are expected to provide a place for their daughter to furlough home while in the program and a place to live when they transition to aftercare.

How much is the program going to cost me?

The program cost is $29.28 per day. Financial aid is available for those who qualify.

What is aftercare?

Aftercare provides support, structure and accountability to juveniles and their families during their transition home, to ensure a successful return to the community.

When can my child come home on furlough?

Your child qualifies for her first weekend furlough one month after her admittance to the program, if her behavior meets expectations.

What services does the program provide?

The program provides drug and alcohol counseling, gang awareness programming, anger management, individual and family therapy, Girl Scouts, Girls Circle, Art projects, Yoga, Assistance Dog training, education, recreational activities, home transition, and independent living skills.

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Probation Camp

Who operates the Camp program?

The Camp Program is a division of the Sonoma County Probation Department and is operated by Probation staff including: Juvenile Correctional Counselors, vocational counselors, therapeutic staff, administrative and support personnel. There is also an on-site school operated by Sonoma County Office of Education, with two instructors, one whose focus is academic and one vocational education.

How and when is a minor sent to the Camp Program?

After a screening process by Juvenile Probation Services, a recommendation is made to the Juvenile Court Judge, who then determines if the Camp Program is an appropriate venue. This decision to commit is made at the dispositional hearing.

What is the duration of the Camp program?

The program varies in length depending on the minor's progress, but averages between nine and twelve months to graduation, including the after-care component.

What is the age of the population served by the program?

Boys committed to the program range in age from 16-18 years old.

What is the focus of the Camp Program?

The program focuses on confrontation of anti-social/illegal behavior and thinking patterns in youth committed to the juvenile justice system. Each component of the program is designed to assist youth in taking responsibility for their decisions and behavior. The primary goal is the individual development of basic personal, social, academic and vocational skills necessary to survive in modern society, as well as to thrive as responsible and productive adults.

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