In Texas, probation is typically given either after an individual serves time in jail, or in lieu of serving jail time. Probation is often a favorable outcome when an individual is convicted of an offense, as it can reduce jail sentences, provide an alternative to jail time, facilitate a deferred adjudication, and/or allow individuals to stay with their family and community.
Probation does not come without conditions, however. Because probation effectively suspends an offender’s jail sentence, individuals typically must meet certain conditions and restrictions, such as:
- Serving some jail time
- Community service
- Alternative treatment or rehabilitation
- Reporting to a probation officer
- Avoiding criminal activity
- Maintain scheduled court appearances
- Avoid travel outside of Texas
- Avoid certain people or places
- Regularly receive drug tests
- Avoid alcohol
- Seek and maintain employment
The availability and specifics of probation vary depending on the offense. In Texas, probably usually lasts between one and three years, but more severe offenses may have longer probation periods. Additionally, more severe crimes such as capital offenses or crimes for which the sentence exceeds 10 years are not eligible for probation.
Lessening Probation Time
In Texas, early termination of probation may be an option for some individuals. Depending on the type of offense committed and an offender’s successful performance of probation requirements, a parole office may identify individuals who are eligible for an early release of supervision. This can be an ideal outcome for convicted offenders. Probation can be stressful and time consuming. Additionally, even simple offenses like jaywalking might violate an individual’s probation, so receiving an early release can relieve individuals of huge stresses and financial burdens.
What is a probation violation?
Probation, also sometimes known as community supervision, balances a convicted individual’s well-being with the safety of the public or community. Therefore courts, prosecutors, and probation officers do not take kindly to violations of probation, as they are perceived as dangers to members of the community. This is especially true for more serious or violent offenses.
A violation occurs if you break any of the conditions, rules, or requirements established in your probation order. If a probation violation is discovered, the consequences can be severe and burdensome.
If a probation officer suspects or discovers a violation, they have the discretion to warn you and offer leniency. However, they can just as easily demand that you stand at a probation violation hearing, where you may be subject to additional probation rules, fines, jail time, or even a revoked probation. Do not depend on a probation officer’s leniency; it is best to avoid breaking the rules of your probation altogether.
What happens if I violate my probation?
If you violate probation, your probation officer may file a report prompting the court to issue a warrant for your arrest. Additionally, this warrant may have no bond. If you do not receive bond, you will need to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney so that they can request the judge to set a bond for you. This bond, if granted, will typically be more than the original bond.
If you have violated your probation, what happens next is largely out of your hands. The harsh reality is that judges and prosecutors often view probation violations as an indication of an offender’s lack of remorse and inability to avoid crime. However, there are some important factors that will influence possible outcomes. Additionally, there are ways that a criminal defense attorney can advocate on your behalf to receive favorable outcomes in a probation violation case.
The severity of your original probation, as well as what type of probation violation you may have committed, will play a role in determining what the punishment will be. For minor offenses, a judge may extend your probation and/or change the conditions of your probation. For minor and first-time probation violations, it is possible that the judge will warn you of the possible consequences of future violations. This can be likely, but there is no guarantee a judge will grant his or her leniency. Having an experience criminal defense attorney on your side can help you demonstrate and communicate your specific story to the court. This can increase the chances that you will avoid serious consequences for a probation violation. Additionally, a lawyer may also be able to demonstrate that certain probation conditions were overly burdensome or impractical, giving some possible justification for why a violation occurred.
For more serious violations, such as endangering your community or failing to meet with a probation officer, it is more likely that a judge will revoke your parole altogether and sentence you to jail. While this is an unfavorable outcome, you do have the right to challenge the revocation by requesting a hearing.
What is a revocation hearing?
In Texas, revocation hearings are held by judges, not juries. These hearings are similar to regular criminal trials but have some important differences.
At a revocation hearing, you are entitled to be represented by a criminal defense attorney. The prosecutor will attempt to prove that you violated your probation, while you and your lawyer may defend against the allegations, such as by arguing that there was no probation violation, challenging the state’s evidence, and/or arguing that the violation was not serious.
Unlike in criminal trials, however, the state has a much lower burden of proof. The state does not have to prove that a probation violation occurred beyond a reasonable doubt, but rather, they must show that there was a violation by a preponderance of the evidence. This effectively means that it is much easier for prosecutors to show that a violation took place.
An experienced criminal defense attorney will be able to use the available evidence to determine a comprehensive strategy to reach the best possible outcome for you.
If the judge rules that you did not violate probation, you will avoid jail time and resume your probation.
If, however, the judge rules that there was a violation, they can either revoke your probation and send you to jail, or they can release you but extend and/or add more restrictions to your probation.
If your probation is revoked and you are sent to jail, your time spent on probation will not be eligible to count towards the jail sentence. If you are released on a stricter probation, you will likely not be eligible for early dismissal.
Revocation hearings can result in time-consuming, costly, and stressful outcomes for individuals that violate their parole. It is crucial that you have an experience probation violation defense attorney that can represent you at every step of the way in these hearings.
What if I violate probation while on deferred adjudication?
Deferred adjudication is typically available to first-time offenders, allowing them to delay the entrance of a conviction if the offender successfully completes parole.
If you have been granted deferred adjudication for a prior crime and have possibly violated your probation, the stakes are higher. A probation violation may lead to the revocation of the deferred adjudication, meaning you may be sentenced to any length of prison or jail time. Prosecutors may demand a 10-year sentence for individuals that violate deferred adjudication probation, regardless of the original offense.
Additionally, courts view deferred adjudication as a ‘second chance’. Some judges are stricter than others, however no judge is keen to grant much leeway a third or fourth time. If you may have violated your deferred adjudication probation, is imperative that you contact a talented criminal defense attorney to secure the best possible outcome for your case.
Do not wait to contact a criminal defense lawyer.
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