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What date would probation begin for a criminal judgment that has two different dates in the area of the signature? For example, take this judgment in a Criminal Case from the Southern district of New York, which has a Date of Imposition of the 17th of July 2022 and a signature date of the 22nd of July 2022.

A snippet from a court order. Date of Imposition of Judgment 7/13/2022. Signature of Judge. Name and Title of Judge. Date 7/22/22.

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  • 13th of July 2022 was a Wednesday, 22nd July 2022 was a Friday
    – Trish
    Commented Jan 16 at 7:23
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    FYI, in U.S. legal writing, the preferred rule of spelling is that "there is no "judge" in "judgment,"" as done in the body text, but not in the pre-edit headline.
    – ohwilleke
    Commented Jan 16 at 23:20

3 Answers 3

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+100

The pertinent rule is Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 32. This states, in the pertinent parts:

(b) Time of Sentencing.

(1) In General. The court must impose sentence without unnecessary delay. . . .

(k) Judgment.

(1) In General. In the judgment of conviction, the court must set forth the plea, the jury verdict or the court's findings, the adjudication, and the sentence. If the defendant is found not guilty or is otherwise entitled to be discharged, the court must so order. The judge must sign the judgment, and the clerk must enter it.

This is in contrast to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 58(c) which states:

TIME OF ENTRY. For purposes of these rules, judgment is entered at the following times: (1) if a separate document is not required, when the judgment is entered in the civil docket under Rule 79(a); or (2) if a separate document is required, when the judgment is entered in the civil docket under Rule 79(a) and the earlier of these events occurs: (A) it is set out in a separate document; or (B) 150 days have run from the entry in the civil docket.

While it is not the easiest reading, and both civil and criminal judgments must be ultimately signed by the judge, Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 32 does not make the date that the order is signed the effective date of the order, while Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 58(c) generally does make the date that the order is signed the effective date of the order.

This distinction makes sense. A criminal defendant must be hauled off to jail immediately in most cases, and that shouldn't be held up while lawyers draft a piece of paper reiterating what was said orally on the record in open court. This need for urgency is usually not present in a civil case.

In this case, the judge appears to be indicating that the judgment was entered orally in open court on the typed date, and then signed the written order on the date shown, nine days later, because judgments must ultimately be memorialized in writing, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 35(k)(1).

So, the probation sentence takes effect and is imposed on Wednesday, July 13, 2022, and not on Friday, July 22, 2022.

Thus, under the Southern District of New York Probation Rules which provides that:

All individuals who are sentenced to a period of probation or supervised release are required to report within seventy-two (72) hours of their sentence or release.

the requirement to report would be 72 hours from the time on July 13, 2022 that the sentence was entered, i.e. sometime on Saturday, July 16, 2022, unless there is a rule adjusting deadlines the fall on weekends somewhere in the probation rules.

The probation rules further supports the idea that the sentence starts when it is announced in open court, which happens at a specific time of day, and not when the order ratifying the sentence is signed. This is because the defendant can't easily know when the order was signed by the judge.

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The date probation began is the date the judge imposed the sentence of probation. Could have been July 13 or July 22 or some other date. The July 13 date could be a typo. The defendant could have been sentenced on July 17 but the judge did not sign the order until July 22.

Regardless of what the dates typed or written, probation began on the date when the judge and the defendant were both in the courtroom and the judge said, "Hereby sentence you to probation."

Whatever that date was--regardless of any signature, typed date, or paperwork--is the date when probation began.

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    Commented Jan 16 at 11:32
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So, let me just start by saying the rules of probation are different in every state. They can even be different within the states depending on jurisdiction, i.e. various counties, city probation, etc. That said, and nearly every state I am familiar with your probation will start on the day that you meet with your probation officer and sign documents. Not the day that the judge orders probation. That’s because, unlike being taken into custody… When you enter the probation system, all the duties are to contact your probation officer at the appropriate time due the intake, etc. etc. Many many people never do that. Hence automatically violation but I digress, regardless you do not become under probation thumb until you sign and you are not serving until you sign. So the later day is the date that you will be using, if in fact, there were some sort of rule that said that you had to serve exactly those days. That being said most times, unless you’re screwing up, you will very likely removed off probationary as sooner. It’s sort of like parole for probation or best of luck!!

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    The signature is of the judge not the probation officer
    – Trish
    Commented Jan 16 at 7:59
  • How much time after the Date of Imposition or judge's signing does the defendant have to sign with a probation officer? Commented Jan 16 at 19:28
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    I found the probation requirements for the SDNY: "All individuals who are sentenced to a period of probation or supervised release are required to report within seventy-two (72) hours of their sentence or release." Knowing that, which date would they be required to report within 72 hours after? (probation.nysd.uscourts.gov/intake-processing) Commented Jan 16 at 19:39

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