Division of Criminal Justice Services

Frequently Used Terms and Phrases

Absconder - A probationer who has failed to make his or her whereabouts known for a period of 30 calendar days by failure to report or who has left the jurisdiction of the court without permission of the court or probation officer.

Adjustment period - The time period during which probation intake is authorized to complete a preliminary probation procedure in a case pursuant to starting and duration dates specified in the Family Court Act and Uniform Family Court Rules.

Adjustment services - An attempt to adjust suitable cases either before a petition is filed, or by order of the court before a fact-finding. An adjustment may occur eith er at the conclusion of the preliminary intake review or through the completion of a case assessment, development of a service plan and the provision of Adjustment services.

Automation - The automatic operation or control of a process, system or equipment.

Assessment - As used in probation and alternatives to incarceration, the gathering of information for the determination of offender risk to the community and needs for successful discharge whether it be from probation supervision or release from custody.

BAC (Blood Alcohol Content) - Measurement of the alcohol content in milligrams per 100 milliliters of blood.

For example:

  • In order start a car with an ignition interlock device a person’s blood-alcohol content must measure below .02, or 20 milligrams per 100 milliliters of blood.
  • A motorist who has been stopped by the police has his/her blood alcohol content measured by a breathalyzer device and it indicates that his/her BAC is .08 or 80 milligrams per 100 milliliters of blood in her body. This is the threshold indicator of intoxication as defined in the law.   

Bucchal Swab - The Bucchal Swab is used for the collection of DNA and is performed using a brush (swab) with an ejectable head. Each swab can only be used on one specific participant.

Co-occurring - Occurring jointly or together, such as mental illness with chemical/alcohol addiction.

Contact - Communication with or concerning the probationer, in person, by telephone, by mail, by electronic medium or any other means.

Continuum - A number of steps within a process of care, service, or supervision that appear to be continuous and without break.

Collateral Contact - Communication, other than a normal supervisory interaction, between a probation department and a person other than the probationer concerning the probationer's behavior or status, either in person, by telephone, by mail, by electronic medium, or any other means approved by the State Director of Probation and Correctional Alternatives.

Computer-based - The use of a computer and either a computer disk or floppy disk to obtain training and or information.

Criminogenic - Producing or tending to produce crime or criminals: a criminogenic environment.

Designated Assessment Service (DAS) - The entity (ies) which provides those assessment services as specified in each locality's PINS Adjustment services Plan, which are operated by or under agreement with probation intake for determining the service needs of persons referred for assessment pursuant to article 735 of the Family Court Act.

Diversion - Rerouting a path toward a different direction, in Probation, diversion is to provide alternatives to court processing.

Disposition - The formal resolution of a case by a court.

Dual Supervision - The status resulting from concurrent probation sentences where the duty of supervision may be carried out by more than one agency, or the establishment of custodial responsibility by another governmental or private social agency in concert with a probation supervision disposition, or concurrent supervision by a parole agency.

DWI - An abbreviation for Driving While Intoxicated – driving while intoxicated is a criminal offense which occurs when driving a motor vehicle after consuming enough alcohol to raise the blood alcohol level above the legal limit.

Felony - An offense for which a sentence to a term of imprisonment in excess of one year may be imposed.

Home Visit - A visit to the probationer's home to verify residence, to assess living conditions, monitor probationer compliance with the conditions of probation, and/or assess needs, and in some cases deliver family programs.

Ignition Interlocks - Devices equipped with recording devices that capture the number of times the automobile was started or attempted to be started, the operator’s BAC at the time an attempt was made to start the car, and the duration the automobile was driven during the monitoring period.

Intake - Includes at least one conference by probation with the potential respondent (i.e. child, parent, adult) and other interested parties concerning the advisability of filing a petition.

Intra state - The transfer of probation supervision between counties within the same state.

Inter state - The transfer of probation supervision between states.

Interstate Compact - Legally binding agreements and administrative arrangements under which the states in an interstate transfer serve as each other's agents in the supervision of certain parolees, probationers, juvenile delinquents and youthful offenders. Probationers, who are allowed to move to a different state, do so under the auspices of Interstate Compact.

Interstate Transfer - The process by which the supervision of adult and child probationers is transferred to and from jurisdictions outside the State of New York.

Intervention - Used here to represent the steps taken to direct individual toward positive outcomes. An example of an intervention would be the referral of an alcoholic to an alcohol treatment program.

Juvenile Delinquent (JD) - A person between the ages 7 and 16, who commits an act which if had been committed by an adult, would have been a crime. 

Juvenile Offender - A criminal charge for a person charged with certain serious felonies alleged to have been committed when the person was at least 13 years old and less than 16 years old and processed in Criminal Court. 

Linkages - The act or process of linking. Used here to refer to connecting an individual with appropriate services and or connecting related services.

Misdemeanor - An offense, other than a "traffic infraction," for which a sentence to a term of imprisonment in excess of fifteen days may be imposed, but for which a sentence to a term of imprisonment in excess of one year cannot be imposed.

Model - To make conform to a chosen standard. Serving as a standard of excellence; worthy of imitation

Multi-Disciplinary - Having more than one area of specialty or concern addressing a particular need.

Needs assessment - Standardized procedures which identify the probationer's needs or aspects of the probationer's behavior or life situation which, if not addressed, could impede rehabilitation or promote continued illegal behavior.

New Offense Violation - A violation of probation by virtue of a new offense while on probation.

Normed - Usually refers to the statistical process of adjusting a test so that it accurately reflects the "norm" of its target population or standard.

Optimum - The best or most favorable condition, degree, or amount for a particular situation.

Offender -; A person convicted of committing a crime.

Peace Officer - In New York State a Peace Officer is a person designated by law who, pursuant to statutory authority of the Criminal Procedure Law 2.20, is authorized to exercise and may be required to exercise prescribed police-like powers such as bear arms, use of force, make arrests and conduct searches when acting pursuant to his/her job assignments.  In New York State probation officers, parole officers and corrections officers are among the many titles designated as peace officers. 

Police officers deal with the general public and are charged with enforcing all laws.  They have a pro-active law enforcement responsibility to deter crimes, detect the commission of crimes and apprehend those responsible.  Peace officers serve specific clientele and enforce the laws pertaining to those designated populations.  Probation officers have primary responsibility for enforcing the conditions of probation imposed by the courts on offenders sentenced to a period of probation.  All probation officers in New York State are peace officers. 

Personal Contact - Face-to-face contact with the probationer by the assigned probation officer or officers, or other authorized personnel operating as a probation team.

Person in Need of Supervision (PINS) - A person less than eighteen years of age who does not attend school in accordance with the education law or who is incorrigible, ungovernable, or habitually disobedient and beyond the lawful control of a parent of other person legally responsible for such child’s care, or who possesses or uses illegal or controlled substances.

Placed on Probation - This term means a disposition imposed by a Family court which permits the respondent to remain in the community under conditions specified by such court and to be supervised by a probation officer.

Potential Petitioner - The person in a case who would sign and file a petition with the court in order to commence a proceeding, including the modification or enforcement of a court order.

Pre-disposition Investigation (PDI) - The process by which probation officers investigate and produce a report prior to the Dispositional Hearing pursuant to a Family Court order.

Preliminary Intake Review - The holding of at least one conference with the persons potentially qualifying for Adjustment services and the person, or representative of an entity, seeking to file a petition concerning the eligibility and suitability of the case for Adjustment services. This is the initial stage of preliminary probation procedure.

Pre-plea Investigation - The process by which probation officers investigate an offender prior to conviction, and produce a report pursuant to a Criminal Court order or request.

Pre-sentence Investigation (PSI) - The process by which probation officers investigate and produce a report pursuant to a Criminal Court order prior to conviction and prior to sentencing.

Probation Intake - A generic term used to describe a function of probation which provides for the provision by probation personnel to members of the community of certain pre-adjudicatory services in Family Court matters and/or certain referral services.

Probation Sentence - A sentence imposed by a criminal court which permits the convicted/adjudicated offender to remain in the community under conditions specified by that court and to be supervised by a probation officer.

Probation - A department of government at the county or city level administering and carrying out probation functions, programs, and services pursuant to laws, policies and rules.

Probation Services - Intake/diversion, investigation, supervision, support/collection, and other special or related service delivery programs provided by a local probation department.

Probation Team - A group of probation officers or other probation personnel authorized by the local director of probation to perform supervision functions, who are designated to share the responsibility for case management and/or service delivery for either the full term of supervision or a limited period of time. A probation team may perform a specific supervision task or a variety of duties, in accordance with procedures established by the local director of probation.

Protective Factors - Characteristics and resources of youth and their families that help insulate them from negative outcomes and help ensure their adjustment. Protective factors are also referred to as strengths.

Protocol - A strict procedure.

Recidivism - Relapse into a former pattern of behavior; especially, a tendency to return to criminal habits. Most commonly identified as a re-arrest.

Referred for Petition - The advisement by probation intake to the potential petitioner that a petition may be filed, whether or not a petition is actually filed.

Restitution - The act of restoring to the rightful owner something that has been taken away, lost, or surrendered. The act of compensating for loss, damage or injury.

Service Provider - Any agency, organization or individual licensed, certified, or regulated by law that provides services to the probationer in accordance with the probationer's needs.

Stabilize - To maintain/obtain stability - stability is defined as being resistant to sudden change; having a constancy of character, reliability and dependability.

Successfully Adjusted - An official determination by probation intake that resolution of the presenting complaint has been achieved.

Supervision - The sum of the activities of a probation officer, or probation officers or other authorized personnel acting as a team, which includes the review of the conditions of probation with each probationer, offering instruction with regard thereto, keeping informed of the probationer's compliance with the terms and conditions of probation; monitoring and holding a probationer accountable for his or her conduct, habits, associates, employment, recreation, and whereabouts; aiding a probationer in securing employment; and aiding and encouraging a probationer by individual or group counseling, guidance and admonition and by such other measures as may seem most suitable to bring about improvement in probationer conduct, condition, and general attitude toward society; and identifying and utilizing resources appropriate to the needs of the probationer.

Supervision Period - The length of time a person is supervised on Probation which is determined by type of crime (misdemeanor or felony) or time probationer is sentenced to or placed on probation, or from the date of completion of a condition of imprisonment imposed by a criminal court.

Technical Violation - A violation of probation by failure to comply with the conditions of supervision.

Termination - The discharge or end of a sentence to or placement on probation by the court.

Treatment - The application of remedies with the intent to cure; therapy.

Therapeutic - Pertaining to the treating or curing of disease or condition; curative. For example: Treatment programs for alcohol or substance abuse.

Virtual - Existing or resulting in essence or effect though not in actual form or name. A Virtual Academy provides a learning experience via computer without having to attend a classroom presentation.

Youthful Offender (YO) - A special treatment for certain offenders between 14 and 19 which allows the criminal record to be sealed and does not disqualify a person from public employment or licensing.