FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Who is a U.S. Probation Officer?
What is the difference between a presentence officer and a supervision officer?
What is a presentence report?
When will I be contacted to schedule my presentence interview?
Where can I find information about the United States Sentencing Commission?
What is the difference between pretrial defendants and a convicted offender?
When do I report to my probation officer?
I have been convicted and the court has ordered a presentence investigation in my case. Do I still report to my supervision officer now that a presentence officer is preparing my report?
What do I do if I miss my color code report date?
Will I have travel restrictions while on supervision?
What is the difference between probation, parole or supervised release?
Will my probation officer come to my home or workplace?
What happens after I am sentenced?
What is voluntary surrender?
I was sentenced and have been allowed to voluntarily surrender. Am I still on supervision?
If I am sentenced to a term of incarceration, how is my place of imprisonment determined?
Can I obtain a copy of my presentence report?
Can I obtain a copy of my Judgment and Commitment Order?
Will it be possible for me to get off supervision early?
Can I obtain a license to carry a firearm with a felony conviction?
How can I restore my voting right?



Who is a U. S. Probation Officer? A U. S. Probation Officer (USPO) is a federal law enforcement officer of the court who conducts investigations on defendants and offenders, makes recommendations to the court, and monitors the activities of individuals who have been placed on supervision.

What is the difference between a presentence officer and a supervision officer? A presentence officer conducts a presentence investigation and submits a presentence report to the court prior to sentencing. A supervision officer monitors a defendant’s or offender’s compliance with the conditions of supervision imposed by the court.

What is a presentence report? As ordered by the court, a probation officer conducts a presentence investigation and submits a report to the court prior to sentencing. The purpose of the report is to assist the court in determining an appropriate sentence. It also serves to assist the probation officer in its supervision of the offender and to support the Bureau of Prisons (BOP)with inmate designation, classification, and release planning. The probation officer independently investigates the specifics of the offense and the offender’s criminal background and personal characteristics. The probation officer conducts interviews with the offender, as well as significant others who can provide information about the offender. Interviews/contacts are also conducted with the prosecutor, victims, and investigating agents. Home visits are conducted to assess the offender’s living conditions. Information regarding familial relationships, education, employment, substance abuse, physical health, mental health, and financial condition is gathered. After compiling the information and completing the presentence report, the probation officer discloses the report to the prosecutor and the defendant’s attorney. The probation officer is required to disclose the report at least 35 days prior to sentencing, unless this minimum time is waived by the defendant. If either the government or the defendant has any objections to the advisory guideline computations or the factual content of the report, written objections must be filed within 14 days of receipt of the report. The probation officer will attempt to resolve the objections and, if applicable, make any necessary corrections to the presentence report. The report will then be disclosed to the court and the parties. Any issues that remain unresolved will be summarized in an addendum. The final resolution of such disputes will be determined by the court.

When will I be contacted to schedule my presentence interview? The presentence officer will usually contact you after you have either pled guilty or have been convicted at trial. However, you may be contacted at any time during this process.

Where can I find information about the United States Sentencing Commission? You can visit the following website: www.ussc.gov/guidelin.htm

What is the difference between pretrial defendants and a convicted offender? Pretrial defendants are presumed innocent of the charges against them until they either plead guilty or are found guilty at trial. Convicted offenders are serving a sentence imposed by the court.

When do I report to my probation officer? You are required to report to your officer as directed, either by phone or in person, and submit a written monthly report between the first and fifth of each month (along with accompanying documentation such as proof of income, employment search, AA attendance, etc.), for as long as you are on supervision.

I have been convicted and the court has ordered a presentence investigation in my case. Do I still report to my supervision officer now that a presentence officer is preparing my report? You should continue to report to your supervision officer, as directed. The presentence officer is assigned to your case only for the purpose of preparing a presentence report.

What do I do if I miss my color code report date? As soon as you know that you cannot report for your color code, or missed calling the color code for reporting instructions, you MUST make contact with your probation officer by phone immediately.

Will I have travel restrictions while on supervision? Yes. Your travel will be restricted to the Northern District of Alabama, a map of which has already been provided to you. Any travel outside the district will require advance travel permission from your officer.

What is the difference between probation, parole or supervised release? Probation is a term of community supervision imposed by the court in lieu of a prison sentence. Parole is a period of community supervision imposed by the U. S. Parole Commission to be completed after release from a prison term. Supervised release is a period of community supervision imposed by the court to be completed after release from a jail or prison sentence.

Will my probation officer come to my home or workplace? The USPO will make home visits to ensure compliance with the conditions of supervision and to assess your adjustment at home and in the community. Employment or the offender’s efforts at securing employment will be verified in every case. Officers will be discreet as possible when making employment inquiries.

What happens after I am sentenced? You can be sentenced to a fine, probation, or imprisonment. If you are sentenced to probation, you should report to the probation office immediately following sentencing. At the probation office, an officer will review your sentence and all conditions of supervision. Supervision is based on your residence. If you do not live within the Northern District of Alabama, your supervision will be transferred to the district where you reside. If you are sentenced to imprisonment, and you are not directly committed to the custody of the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) by the court, the judge may allow you to voluntarily surrender to an institution designated by the BOP or to the U.S. Marshal Service.

What is voluntary surrender? Voluntary surrender is a procedure by which a defendant sentenced to serve a period of custody is permitted to voluntarily report, unaccompanied by a U.S. Marshal, to the designated institution for service of the sentence. Eligible individuals normally would include those who have been on pretrial release, have complied with the conditions of their release, are not subject to mandatory detention upon conviction as described in 18 U.S.C. § 3143, and are deemed worthy of this procedure in the opinion of the court.

I was sentenced and have been allowed to voluntarily surrender. Am I still on supervision? Yes. If you have been reporting to a probation officer by order of the court, you will remain on pretrial supervision until you self-surrender to the designated facility.

If I am sentenced to a term of incarceration, how is my place of imprisonment determined? The BOP is solely responsible for selecting the institution for service of your sentence. It considers, among other things, any recommendations from the sentencing judge, your medical/mental health/substance abuse issues, the geographic area of your residence, security issues, and the population of individual institutions. The probation office has no input in the decision-making process and is unable to change a designation. Once you have been designated to a facility, you may call the institution directly for information and directions. Further information is available at the BOP website, www.bop.gov.

How do I obtain a copy of my presentence report? Presentence reports are confidential documents and will only be released to your attorney (who will discuss the report with you), the prosecutor, the court, and the BOP (if you are sentenced to imprisonment). Absent a court order, no other party is entitled to a copy of the report.

How do I obtain a copy of my Judgment and Commitment Order? Judgment and Commitment Orders are public information. You may contact the Clerk’s Office (Hugo L. Black Federal Courthouse, 1729 Fifth Avenue North, Birmingham, Alabama, 35203) to obtain a copy of your Judgment and Commitment Order.

Will it be possible for me to get off supervision early? There is a possibility for early termination consideration after one year from the time your probation or supervised release begins based on whether or not you meet certain eligibility requirements. Your probation officer can review this with you at the appropriate time in your supervision term.

Can I obtain a license to carry a firearm with a felony conviction? Public Law 102-393 passed on October 6, 1992, does not allow the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms to process applications for restoration of your Federal firearm privileges. Until this law is changed, you are still prohibited from possessing, receiving, transporting, or shipping firearms under Federal law.

How can I restore my voting right?Click here for restoration of voting rights information.