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Q: What is the procedure for the drug testing program also known as Phase Testing Program?

Phase Testing is a random urinalysis system that requires participants to call the hotline on a daily basis, listen for a designated number and report to the required location on the specified day for submission. You are to remember your designated number/color to ensure you report on the proper day.

Q: How can I have my probation/supervised release terminated early?

You are eligible to request early termination from probation or supervised release under the following circumstances:

  • Statutorily after you have completed at least one year of supervision, your attorney can petition the Court.  However in the District of Montana, you must have completed at least two-thirds (2/3) of your ordered term of supervision unless you have demonstrated extraordinary efforts.

If you have been convicted of a serious felony and/or have a history of violence, your case will not be considered for early termination.

Q: I have a family member/friend who is scheduled to be released from prison. They were convicted in federal court in another district or state but want to reside in the District of Montana. How can his/her case be transferred?

The offender must request transfer of jurisdiction through his/her Bureau of Prisons Case Manager. When the request is made by the case manager, the U.S. Probation Office will conduct an investigation to determine whether the offender may transfer and report its findings to the Bureau of Prisons. The transfer of jurisdiction may only occur with approval from the district that would receive and supervise the offender.

Q: I am an employer and I want to know if a prospective employee has been convicted of a crime, can you run a background check?

The U.S. Probation Office is restricted from disclosing information to the public. However, most convictions are generally available in public records. These records are maintained by the U.S. District Court Clerk.

Q: What are the standard conditions of probation the court must impose?

Individuals on supervision are required by the Court to abide by certain rules. These rules are called the conditions of supervision. They are basically the same whether the person is on probation, parole, military parole, mandatory release, or supervised release.  For a list of conditions, see Pre-2016 Standard Conditions of Supervision and Post-2016 Standard Conditions of Supervision

Q: I am on probation/supervised release. Am I allowed to leave the state?

The District of Montana is comprised of 56 counties. You are allowed to travel freely within these counties, unless you are specifically restricted by the Court or your U.S. Probation Officer.  

Q: I have been released from federal prison, how soon do I have to report for supervision?

Once released from custody, you are required to report to your assigned U.S. Probation Officer within 72 hours of release, which includes weekends and holidays. Please call your assigned U.S. Probation Officer between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., for instructions on where to report.

Q: I know of a family member who is on Federal probation/supervised release, can you tell me what crime they committed?

The U.S. Probation Office may release information that is typically available to the public.  However, most convictions can be found in public records. These public records are maintained by the U.S. District Court Clerk.


Q: If I am convicted of a Federal crime, can I or a family member own or possess a firearm?

An individual convicted of a felony offense is legally prohibited from possessing a firearm under 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1). Possession of a firearm by a family member living in the same residence as a convicted felon could constitute constructive possession, which may violate federal law.

Q: How do I have my conviction expunged?

Federal convictions cannot be expunged. However, you may apply for a Presidential Pardon. Any person convicted of a felony in Federal court is eligible to file a petition for a Presidential Pardon under the following circumstances, although some exceptions may apply:

  • The individual is no longer serving the sentence and is not under parole, probation, or supervised release;
  • Five years have passed since release from confinement or if confinement was not imposed, five years from the date of conviction; and
  • A waiting period of seven years is required for more serious offenses, including violations of narcotic laws, income tax laws, perjury, violation of public trust involving dishonesty, violent crimes, gun control laws, fraud involving substantial sums of money, violations involving organized crime, and other crimes of a serious nature.

It is strongly recommended that you consult with an attorney to assist you with the process. Pardon applications may be obtained by making a written request to the Office of the Pardon Attorney, at the following address:

Office of the Pardon Attorney United States Department of Justice 1425 New York Ave NW, Suite 11000, Washington, DC 20530.

Q: If I am convicted of a felony in Federal court, can I vote?

In all but two states (Vermont and Maine), voting age citizens convicted of a felony are barred from voting for at least some period of time. Restrictions on a felon's right to vote are summarized below:

Voting rights retained while incarcerated for a felony conviction in: Maine and Vermont.

Voting rights restored automatically upon release from prison in: The District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Utah.

Voting rights restored automatically once released from prison and discharged from parole (probationers can vote) in: California, Colorado, Connecticut, New York, and South Dakota.

Voting rights restored automatically upon completion of sentence, including prison, parole, and probation in: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

Voting rights restoration is dependent on the type of conviction and/or the outcome of an individual petition or application to the government in: Alabama, Delaware, Mississippi, Nevada, Tennessee, and Wyoming.

Voting rights can only be restored through an individual petition or application to the government in: Florida, Iowa, Kentucky, and Virginia.

Q: Where can I find the probation or pretrial service office mailing address?

See our Office Locations.

Q: What is the presentence investigation phase of a case?

Presentence investigation occurs after a defendant enters a plea of guilty to a federal offense or is convicted by trial. During this phase, a probation officer interviews the defendant to gather information on the defendant's background. From the interviews and investigation, the probation officer prepares a presentence report for the judge to use to determine the appopriate sentence for the defendant.

Read more about presentence investigation.

Q: What is supervision?

Supervision in the federal system is:

  • A core responsibility of U.S. probation and pretrial services officers, along with investigation.
  • A way to monitor the activities and behavior of people released to the community by the federal courts or paroling authorities.
  • An opportunity to help offenders reintegrate into the community following a period of incarceration.
  • In the case of probation, a punishment that is less severe than imprisonment, but still holds people accountable for breaking the law.
  • An alternative to jail or prison that costs less than incarceration and gives people charged with or convicted of federal crimes the opportunity to live with their families, hold jobs, and be productive members of society.

Read more about supervision.

Q: Where can I find information about the district court’s judges and magistrate judges?

You can find information on federal judges (district and magistrate judges) U.S. District Court, District of Montana's website.


Q: If I am convicted of a Federal crime, am I permitted to hunt?

An individual convicted of a felony offense is prohibited from possessing a firearm under 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1), but is not prohibited from hunting consistent with state regulations.

Provided that they are not subject to probation/supervised release conditions prohibiting the possession of a dangerous weapon, felons may hunt with bows and/or black powder rifles if no risk is determined by your U.S. Probation Officer.  Felons subject to state supervision under the Montana Department of Corrections are specifically precluded from possessing bows and/or black powder rifles.

Q: I have been found guilty in Federal Court, what happens next?

Most likely the judge has ordered a presentence report that will be used at your sentencing hearing. Your case will be assigned to a U.S. Probation Officer for the preparation of the presentence report, which will include a personal interview with you.

Q: How do I get a certified copy of a document?

You may request a certified copy of a document by contacting the U.S. District Court clerk’s office.

Q: I have a friend/family member who is in prison. How do I find out where he is being held?

If your friend/family member was convicted in Federal court, he most likely is held in a prison operated by the Federal Bureau of Prisons. This information is publicly available via the Federal Bureau of Prisons website with the Inmate Locator.

Q: I am owed court-ordered restitution, who do I contact to get my money?

The U.S. Probation Office is not authorized to release information regarding payments received and distributed by criminal defendants. Please contact the U.S. District Court Clerk for information if you believe you are owed court-ordered restitution.

Q: I owe restitution for my crime. Who do I pay?

All payments for fines, restitution and special assessments ordered by the judge in your case are to be paid to the U.S. District Court Clerk. Please include your name and case number on your cashier’s check or money order.

Q: Where can I get information regarding child support?

For information regarding child support, contact the Montana Child Support Enforcement Division


Q: I have been sentenced and am waiting to be told where to report to serve my sentence. Do I report to my U.S. Probation Officer until I am assigned to a prison?

If you were released on bond with pretrial supervision, you are still required to report to your U.S. Pretrial Services Agency Officer until you report to prison. Failure to abide by these conditions after sentencing could result in arrest and remand for immediate service of the sentence.


Q: An offender in services at my agency has requested that I disclose his/her treatment records to a third party. Can I do this? Do I have get the permission of the probation office first?

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (“HIPAA”), allows federal vendors to provide individual federal clients access to their records or, alternatively, to request that a provider “mail a copy of the protected health information at the individual’s request” [Title 45 C.F.R. 164.524(c)(3)]. Vendors may release treatment information directly to requesting third parties in accordance with HIPAA regulations. Vendors should be aware, however, pursuant to Page C-45(b)(1) through (7) of the Blanket Purchase Agreement, the vendor is still required to notify the U.S. Probation & Pretrial Services Office of any request for treatment information prior to making the disclosure. For complicated matters or specific questions, it is recommended that vendors seek legal advise from your own counsel since HIPAA compliance is ultimately your obligation. Vendors may also allow defendant/offender access to their treatment records in accordance with HIPPA regulations.

Q: Our state’s licensing agency wants to review our federal files as part of our licensing audit. I know the federal files must be maintained as confidential. Can I let the state auditors review the federal files?

Whether an entity seeking to conduct an audit or evaluation is permitted to do so is a matter that each vendor must resolve under the federal regulations discussed below.

I. The HIPAA Privacy Rule Section 165.512 of the HIPAA privacy rule sets forth “[u]ses and disclosures for which an authorization or opportunity to agree or object [by the patient] is not required.” 45 C.F.R. § 165.512. Among such allowed disclosures are those for “health oversight activities”:

     (d) Standard: Uses and disclosures for health oversight activities.
     (1) Permitted disclosures. A covered entity may disclose protected health information to a health oversight agency for oversight activities authorized by law, including audits; civil, administrative, or criminal investigations; inspections; licensure or disciplinary actions; civil, administrative, or criminal proceedings or actions; or other activities necessary for appropriate oversight of:
     (i) The health care system;
     (ii) Government benefit programs for which health information is relevant to beneficiary eligibility;
     (iii) Entities subject to government regulatory programs for which health information is necessary for determining compliance with program standards; or
     (iv) Entities subject to civil rights laws for which health information is necessary for determining compliance.
     Id. § 164.512(d).

The privacy rule defines “health oversight agency” as follows: Health oversight agency means an agency or authority of the United States, a State, a territory, a political subdivision of a State or territory, or an Indian tribe, or a person or entity acting under a grant of authority from or contract with such public agency, including the employees or agents of such public agency or its contractors or persons or entities to whom it has granted authority, that is authorized by law to oversee the health care system (whether public or private) or government programs in which health information is necessary to determine eligibility or compliance, or to enforce civil rights laws for which health information is relevant. Id. at 164.512 (emphasis added). Notwithstanding that it is a non-governmental entity, CARF would qualify as a “health oversight agency” if either the probation office grants it oversight authority or the probation office authorizes the vendor to grant CARF oversight authority. Of course, CARF would have to be otherwise “authorized by law to oversee the health care system.” Presumably, state laws in the districts where CARF has conducted audits authorize CARF to oversee treatment facilities. Thus, the privacy rule allows health care providers (which are “covered entities”) to disclose protected health information to “health oversight agenc[ies] for oversight activities authorized by law.” This could potentially include state, federal, or nonprofits such as CARF. Whether an entity qualifies as a health oversight agency, however, is an issue for each vendor to resolve under § 164.512 and state law.

II. The Drug Treatment Confidentiality Regulations Section 2.53 of the drug treatment confidentiality regulations allows federal, state, and local governmental agencies to review treatment records if authorized by law to regulate the vendor's activities. 42 C.F.R. § 2.53(a)(1)(i). In addition “a quality  improvement organization performing a utilization or quality control review” or an entity “determined by the program director to be qualified to conduct [] audit or evaluation activities” may review treatment records. Id. § 2.53(a)(1)(ii) & (a)(2). If the vendor determines that any of the foregoing entities are authorized to have access to treatment records under § 2.53(a), the reviewing entity must “agree[] in writing to comply with the limitations on redisclosure and use in [§ 2.53(d)].”  Section 2.53(d) essentially limits an auditor to disclosing and using treatment information that was disclosed during an audit to notify the treatment provider of the auditor's evaluation. Section 2.53(d) also provides for disclosure and use to investigate or prosecute a program, or a person holding the records, if the agency obtains a court order under 42 C.F.R. § 2.66. In sum, the HIPAA privacy rule allows auditors to have access to records if they are employed by a “health oversight agency” and they are performing “oversight activities authorized by law.” The drug treatment confidentiality regulations also allow access so long as a § 2.53 compliant form is signed by the auditor who qualifies under § 2.53(a). Attached is a draft form demonstrating what the drug treatment confidentiality regulations would require an auditor to sign before receiving access to drug treatment records. Vendors should currently be using a form similar to this. The regulations do not specify that such a form need be completed for each file reviewed. Rather, they state that when an auditor  reviews “patient records,” she must sign a written agreement to comply with the § 2.53 limits on disclosure. [This is interpreted] as simply requiring one written agreement for each audit or review of multiple records. A sample release form for these purposes can be found on this website in the Vendor Information/Forms section.

Q: In order to comply with state substance abuse licensure requirements, I must complete an intake assessment on each individual referred for services. The USPO didn’t authorize an intake assessment on the program plan. Can I complete an assessment and charg

No and No. The Blanket Purchase Agreement (BPA) between the vendor and the U.S. Probation & Pretrial Services Office states on page C-1, “The vendor shall provide services strictly in accordance with the program plan for each defendant/offender. The government shall not be liable for any services provided by the vendor that have not been authorized for that defendant/offender in the program plan.”

Oftentimes, a U.S. Probation Officer has enough supporting documentation regarding an offender’s substance abuse history, that it is not necessary for the U.S. Probation Officer to request an assessment to know that an offender/defendant is in need of treatment. U.S. Probation Officer’s have at their disposal a presentence investigation report, institutional treatment and adjustment reports, and they have also administered the Texas Christian University Drug Screen (TCUDS) prior to making the treatment referral.

If the vendor must complete an assessment for state licensure, purposes, the vendor should still complete an assessment. The vendor may not, however, charge the government for this assessment. If the U.S. Probation Officer has authorized individual counseling sessions, it would be appropriate for the vendor to spend the initial counseling sessions completing the state- required assessment.  If the U.S. Probation Officer has not authorized individual counseling sessions, the vendor must completed the state-required assessment on the vendor’s time. The vendor should factor this possible scenario into the price bid for services during the contract solicitation cycle.

Q: My BPA with the probation office says I have to keep all federal files separate from other client files. Does this mean that I also can’t put federal offenders/defendants in services with other clients?

No. You are correct that your BPA requires in section section C that, “The vendor shall segregate defendant/offender files from other vendor records.” This separation is required only for the actual treatment files, not the clients themselves. The vendor, may place federal defendants/offenders in group counseling sessions with other non-federal clients. For example, a cognitive-behavioral treatment group of federal offenders and state offenders would be appropriate under this contract. The vendor should, however, check with other contracted agencies to ensure those agencies are in agreement with such a “mixed” group. The vendor  would also be cautioned about placing federal offenders/defendants in a group with non-criminal justice clients.

Q: I have been subpoenaed by a defendant/offender’s attorney to testify in court. How do I proceed?

If you are requested or subpoenaed by an attorney to appear in court, you should immediately contact your assigned contract specialist. The BPA with the probation/pretrial services office does provide in section C for the event of vendor testimony. Your contract specialist will guide you through this process.

Q: Will officers inform our agency about defendants/offenders who are HIV positive or who have been diagnosed with AIDS?

The U.S. Probation Office policy regarding disclosure of HIV to third parties is governed by Guidelines for U.S. Probation and U.S. Pretrial Services Officers Supervising Person Who Have Been Exposed to the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) or Who Have Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), as approved by the Judicial Conference Committee on Criminal Law. In short, we are not authorized to disclose HIV/AIDS information without written informed consent by the defendant/offender. (There are some exceptions for custodial situations). In addition, we are bound by state law in this regard. Please remember that universal precautions should be used in all cases.