Pursuant to Section (and subsections) 1203 of the California State Penal Code, the Probation Department provides adult pre-sentence investigation services to the Court in misdemeanor and felony cases following a conviction. The Court may refer the matter to Probation for preparation of a report, which in turn is used by the Court to determine an appropriate sentence. The pre-sentence report, also known as the probation report typically includes biographical data, criminal record information, and some legal stipulations, such as plea negotiations, sentencing ranges and a summary of the present offense. The pre-sentence report also includes other collateral information, such as victim impact statements, restitution determination, and character reference letters submitted on behalf of the defendant. When applicable, doctor's evaluations and other mandated assessments are attached to the report as prescribed by law.

Prior to writing the report, the Deputy Probation Officer meets with the defendant who provides a completed written questionnaire. The completed questionnaire serves as the basis for the information contained in the pre-sentence report. Following meeting with the defendant, the probation officer compiles the information provided, coupled with anything learned during the interview, and provides the court with a cohesive document in the form of a probation report, which includes a sentencing recommendation. Even in cases where sentencing has been decided, such as imposition of life sentences and or the death penalty, and some jury trials; the judge orders a probation report to assist in the delivery of final sentencing. The report is vital to all judicial parties involved and serves as an important instrument to the penal institution where the defendant will be imprisoned. In cases where supervised probation is recommended, the Deputy Probation Officer will also recommend that the Court impose certain conditions of probation, with the expectation that the subsequent (supervising) Deputy Probation Officer will enforce the defendant's compliance. The conditions of probation relate to the nature of the offense(s), and the reasonable and related expectations of the defendant which may include treatment.

The idea of imposing conditions is to provide every opportunity for the defendant to succeed, while maximizing community safety. During the period of supervision, the Deputy Probation Officer frequently collaborates with other agencies.


Who is doing the investigation on my case?

The assigned Deputy Probation Officer to your case will contact you either by mail or telephone. You may also call our reception desk at (650) 363-4244 and someone will answer any other questions you may have.

Why am I being referred to the Probation Department's Adult Division, Investigation Services?

Most cases are referred to us because courts need more information in order to make appropriate decisions on each case.

How long will the investigation procedure take?

The investigation procedure normally takes 28 days, but the court can extend or shorten it.

Will my employer be notified?

It depends on your case. You may ask your probation officer once you get one assigned.

When will I find out who my assigned Deputy Probation Officer is?

If your case was referred to the Probation Department for a pre-sentence report, your assigned Deputy Probation Officer will contact you regarding an interview appointment and a probation application. If after sentencing, you are placed on supervised probation, a supervision Deputy Probation Officer will contact you to set up an appointment.

Is there a form or application to be filled out?

Yes, the form is called the San Mateo County Adult Probation Application For Probation. A Spanish version of the form is also available. After your Court appearance, it is highly recommended that you obtain this form to complete in anticipation of your interview with the probation officer. These forms are available at the Probation Office on the 5th floor of the Hall of Justice, or at our satellite probation offices in East Palo Alto and South San Francisco.

Is it necessary to fill out the entire application?

Yes, please fill out the entire application. By doing so, a better picture of your case can be presented to the judge, which can be an advantage.

How binding are plea bargain agreements negotiated by my attorney with the Court and the District Attorney's Office?

Plea negotiations are considered, but not binding. The Probation Department submits a recommendation to the Court for sentencing based upon various factors, including the law, severity of the offense, prior criminal history, acknowledgement of wrongdoing, remorse, attitude and cooperation, social history, public safety, etc. Please consult with your attorney if you have further questions regarding plea bargain agreements.

What do I need to bring in for my presentence investigation interview?

Please bring the following items to your presentence interview:

  • Completed probation application
  • Proof of residence
  • Proof of employment/Verification of income or financial support
  • Proof of medical or mental illness
  • Valid driver's license or state identification card
  • Two or three character reference letters
What is the difference between my Pretrial Deputy Probation Officer and my Investigation Deputy Probation Officer?

You report to your Pretrial Deputy Probation Officer while you are released on Supervised Own Recognizance and criminal proceedings are pending. You contact and report to your Investigation Deputy Probation Officer following a referral to the Probation Department for a presentence report. Your Investigation Deputy Probation Officer will interview you and prepare a presentence report for sentencing.

Does the Probation Department have a list of Bay Area Licensed Residential Treatment Programs?

Yes, a list of Bay Area Licensed Residential Treatment Program is available. Please check with your assigned Deputy Probation Officer for approved programs.