Sunday, August 19, 2012

What do New York Probation, Parole, and Conditional discharges have in common?

They are all forms of a “conditional” release.  So what exactly are you being released from? 

You are being released from having to spend a term of time (or additional time) in jail or prison. This is based upon your written (Court ordered) promise to observe a given set of conditions.

The three types of releases are in descending order of difficulty: 

(1) With Intensive supervision ie. Parole
(2) With Less Intensive supervision ie. Probation
(3) With Little to No Court supervision ie. conditional discharge


If the release is following a term in prison this is called parole.  Post incarceration you are assigned a parole officer. You must check in (be supervised) with this parole officer. You must promise not to hang out with other convicted felons, remain gainfully employed, sober, drug-free, and a host of other terms of release. Violations of your parole have separate hearings, and burdens of proof associated with them.


Probation can be in lieu  (in place of) of any incarceration or in conjunction with a term of time in jail. Probation terms can include anything ranging from community service, restitution (paying back damages), remaining drug-alcohol free, and gainfully employed. Violations of probation usually result in jail time. This is because a term of probation is generally considered rehabilitative in nature. The county (the state) is attempting to provide you resources to help you get back into society. Failing these efforts to assist you (supervise you) the court/judge will opt for a punitive (punishment) as a corrective measure.

Conditional Discharge

Conditional discharges are generally in lieu of probation and/or a term of jail. They are the least restrictive releases given by a court. The term of a CD (conditional discharge) is usually one year although the judge can decide that a two year term is more appropriate. CDs for a misdemeanor have a primary condition: you must remain crime free (no new arrests) for the CD term. In addition to this primary condition the court will usually include a list of other conditions appropriate for your treatment, rehabilitation, and  the nature of your offense.


First time offenders with low-er (less than .15) BACs, a no accident DW, a no injury DW, and no prior DWs will generally be able to get a NYS DWI CD.  This would be in lieu of a three year term of probation and/or county jail time.

This CD will "usually" include a drug-alcohol evaluation, associated (any recommended) treatment, VIP (victim impact panel), DDP (drinking driver program), IID (ignition interlock device) for minimum of six months, and fines/surcharge/DMV fees. Those are the conditions which must be satisfied within a specific set of Court given time parameters. The penumbra (the overall umbrella) is the stay out of trouble (NO new arrests) for One Year or else sentencing can be re-opened on the final negotiated charges. This will be re-sentencing Not to the original charges but to the final plea agreement charges.

ANY VIOLATION of the Conditions of a CD can then mean JAIL time and/or PROBATION so it is important to complete your CD with no mishaps or else the punishment will ratchet up!

Lawrence (Larry) Newman, D.C., J.D.
Doctor of Chiropractic
Attorney and Counselor at Law

504 North Aurora Street
Ithaca, NY 14850