Probation is often offered as an alternative to a jail sentence, or in combination with a much shorter jail sentence than you would otherwise face. Under probation, you are allowed to remain free, but must follow procedures and policies outlined by the community supervision department.
Violating your probation comes with serious consequences, which could include hefty fines, extended probation, or revocation of probation. Therefore, if you are under probation, it is imperative that you understand all of the requirements that you need to follow.
These can differ depending upon your specific situation, but there are a number of common requirements. Below, we’re going to detail two different types of probation in Texas and several ways that people typically violate them.
Types of Probation in Texas
In the state of Texas, there are two different types of probation: straight probation and deferred adjudication probation.
In straight probation, otherwise known as regular probation, the defendant agrees to plead guilty or no contest, and the judge accepts the plea and finds the defendant guilty. The judge then sentences the offender to jail or prison time.
However, instead of actually sending the offender to jail, the judge “probates” or suspends the sentence, and turns the offender over to the community supervision department. The community supervision department then determines the terms and requirements of probation.
Deferred Adjudication Probation
Under deferred adjudication probation, the defendant also accepts a plea deal. The judge accepts the plea, but does not find the defendant guilty. Instead, the judge defers any further proceedings, and turns the offender over to the community supervision department. If the offender completes deferred adjudication successfully, he or she is not convicted.
Common Texas Probation Violations
Probation can be violated in many different ways, depending upon the original offense and terms of the probation. Some common circumstances that may lead to a probation violation include:
Failure to Report
Under probation, the offender is required to report regularly to a supervising officer. Failure to report is one of the most common probation violations.
The officer has a large amount of discretion when monitoring probation violations. He or she may issue a warning for the first failure to report, but any subsequent failures usually trigger a probation violation hearing and potential legal consequences.
Failure to Pay Fees, Fines, or Restitution
Probation often includes court-issued fees or fines, and potentially restitution to the victim(s) of the crime. These can often be quite costly, but failure to pay is considered to be a probation violation.
If you are under probation, work closely with your supervising officer to make sure that you understand all financial obligations and can plan your finances accordingly.
Commission of a New Offense
Probation is considered to be a period of supervision, and one of the goals is to prove that the offender is capable of good behavior. Commission of any new criminal offense, whether related to the original offense or not, is considered a probation violation.
The offender will therefore face not only the consequences of the new offense, but also the consequences of probation violation.
Failure to Complete Required Counseling or Classes
One of the overarching goals of probation is to rehabilitate offenders, and help them become productive members of society. Therefore, counseling sessions and classes are often included in the terms of the probation.
Failure to complete these requirements can be a probation violation.
Positive Drug Test
If the offender is on probation for a drug or alcohol-related offense, he or she will most likely be required to undergo drug testing as a part of the probation. The frequency of testing depends upon the terms of the probation and discretion of the supervising officer, but the bottom line is that you should refrain from using illegal substances while under probation.
Failure to Complete Community Service
Community service is commonly required as a part of probation. This encourages offenders to contribute positively to their community, and to refocus on positive activities.
Community service is time-consuming and often hard work, so offenders may be reluctant to meet this requirement. However, failure to do so can have serious repercussions.
Failure to Obtain Employment
In the interest of rehabilitating the offender, obtaining gainful employment is often a term of probation. This can be difficult, but there are frequently resources available to help offenders find employment, and supervising officers are likely to give offenders some amount of time to find employment so long as there is evidence of a good faith effort.
Consequences of Probation Violation
The bottom line is that probation is considered to be a privilege – not a right. Violations are met with little tolerance, and any violation risks revocation of the probation.
This can mean prison time, and in the case of deferred probation, a conviction on your criminal record. Probation violations may also lead to extended probation or fees.
If you are being accused of violating the terms of your probation, contact a Tarrant County probation violation attorney immediately to help ensure the best possible outcome.
About the Author:
Brandon Fulgham has an in-depth understanding of both Texas law and Texans themselves. Before practicing law here, he received his undergraduate degree from TCU, and his law degree from South Texas College of Law in Houston. After graduation, he worked in District Attorneys’ offices as a prosecutor, building cases designed to put people behind bars. Now, he uses that knowledge to protect the rights of people in and around Fort Worth, making sure they receive the strongest possible defense when they find themselves on the wrong side of the law. He has been recognized for his work by The National Trial Lawyers, Fort Worth Magazine, and others.