Can you change federal Probation in New York?

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A lot of times I get phone calls from people that are on federal probation or federal supervise release and they say, “My probation officer won’t let me travel appropriately,” or, “They won’t let me work a certain job,” or, “They’ve imposed geographic restrictions that aren’t fair,” or, “They’re preventing me from earning a living,” or, “They won’t let me see my family.” The list goes on and on. The first thing I recommend is that, because I used to be a probation officer, is that I recommend that you allow me to contact my probation officer. This basically is true for either state or federal. The thing I try to do is I try to contact the federal probation officer and try to convince that person that my client needs to have a looser rules for his or her supervision.

Sometimes the probation officer is able to change the rules because they’re that are at her or his discretion, other times they’re rules that have been set down by the court and it requires court permission. As a general rule, the first step is I always try to talk to the probation officer or the supervisor because if I can go ahead and effectuate my client’s desires, then change the conditions, then, one, it’s a lot faster. It’s obviously a lot faster to have the probation officer change the rules because she or he can do it from her desk rather than filing a motion, going to court, having the US attorney respond, having the probation department respond, writing a response then to their answer to my motion and then say another court day. This can obviously be very involved, and it’s obviously a lot more expensive for the client. The first thing I recommend is allow me to try and negotiate with the probation officer or the probation department and see what that can get us.

Then if it becomes possible that they can, oftentimes I’ve had probation officers say, “Yeah, we didn’t think of it in this light,” or, “We did have this piece of evidence or this documentation that your office has provided me. We’ll go ahead and we’ll allow the person on federal supervised release or probation to now be able to start to do x, y, or z.” The client’s obviously very happy because they’ve gotten what they want and they got it at a reasonable price and it happened expeditiously. Now, I can’t always do it. While I usually get the bulk of what I want or a sizable chunk of what I want, there are times where I can’t get anything because the federal judge set down these rules or because it’s against their office’s policy or the probation officer is just obstinate, will not change his mind regarding this rule or condition.

Then what can happen is that I can file a motion before the judge to change the rules and conditions. That’s basically when we say, “Hey, this condition is too onerous.” For example, on of the cases I had where this occurred was the probation department, after years on supervised release, decided that my client needed to get counseling related to the offense that had occurred years before he was place on supervised release, obviously before he was committed to prison. I remember the conversation telling the probation officer, “This right. You’re trying to basically use the therapy as actually a punishment. My client hasn’t reoffended. He’s been on supervised release for these years and now you’re trying to put him in some type of therapist when he has his own therapist. There’s no reason for that.” The judge ultimately agreed. One could always go to court if a condition that’s imposed is too onerous for you as a probationer or if it’s just not fair or right.

If you are looking for a New York probation attorney, Paul D. Petrus Jr. can help you with his extensive experience in a variety of criminal areas. Mr. Petrus works in federal and state courts.

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