Three things might happen if the authorities accuse you of breaking the rules during your probation in Texas. You could end up in jail for your full sentence, or your probation time could get longer and stricter, depending on what you allegedly did.
Or you could hire a criminal defense attorney and fight the allegations.
No matter what, we’re here to explain what probation in Texas means and what might occur if authorities accuse you of breaking the court’s rules.
Table of contents
- Texas Community Supervision
- What Is a Violation of Probation in Texas?
- Common Terms of Probation
- The Most Common Probation Violations in Texas
- What Happens at a Revocation Hearing?
- What Does Law Enforcement Do When They Suspect a Violation?
- What Is the Punishment for Probation Violation in Texas?
- Is Deferred Adjudication the Same as Probation?
- What Can a Lawyer Do for Me If I Face a Probation Violation in Texas?
- Let Fulgham Hampton Criminal Defense Attorneys Help You Get Through This Probation Violation
Texas Community Supervision
Community supervision, or community corrections, encompasses various programs for community members convicted of a crime. Instead of being sent to a correctional facility, they’re placed under community supervision.
In Texas, the two most prevalent forms of community supervision are probation and parole, each with its unique characteristics:
Probation is a program designed as an alternative to incarceration. When someone is guilty of a crime and sentenced, the judge determines the duration of their probation and the specific conditions they must follow while on probation.
There are two types of probation: active and inactive. Active supervision entails regular meetings with a probation officer and can involve stricter conditions, such as home visits and drug tests, compared to inactive supervision.
Parole differs from probation in that it applies to individuals who have already served a portion of their prison sentence and are no longer incarcerated.
They may serve the remainder of their sentence outside of prison but must adhere to specific parole conditions to avoid being sent back.
Like probation, parole can be active or inactive, with the conditions based on the individual’s criminal convictions and past compliance with supervision.
Common Terms of Probation
The specific terms of probation in Texas depend on the nature of the offense, the individual’s criminal history, and the judge’s discretion.
However, some standard terms and conditions exist as part of probation in Texas, including:
- Regular Reporting: Probationers must typically meet with their probation officer regularly. These meetings vary but are usually more frequent at the beginning of the probationary period.
- Drug Testing: When drug use is a factor, probationers may be subject to random drug tests to ensure they remain drug-free.
- No New Offenses: One of the fundamental conditions of probation is that the individual must not commit any new criminal offenses while on probation. Any recent arrests can result in probation violations.
- Payment of Fines and Restitution: Probationers may be required to pay fines, court costs, or restitution to victims as part of their probation conditions.
- Completion of Counseling or Classes: Depending on the nature of the offense, the court may mandate that the probationer attends counseling, educational programs, or rehabilitation classes.
- Community Service: Probationers may be required to perform a certain number of hours of community service as part of their probation.
- Residence Restrictions: Some probationers may be subject to restrictions on where they can live or travel during their probation period.
- No Contact with Victims or Co-Defendants: Probationers may be ordered to have no contact with their victims or co-defendants from the original case.
- Employment or Education: The court may require the probationer to maintain stable employment or enroll in an educational program as a condition of probation.
- Curfew: Probationers may be required to adhere to a curfew, limiting their movements during specific hours.
- Ignition Interlock Device: For individuals convicted of DWI (Driving While Intoxicated), the court may order installing an ignition interlock device on their vehicle.
- Weapon Restrictions: Depending on the nature of the offense, probationers may be prohibited from possessing firearms or other weapons during their probation.
There can be additional requirements depending on the specifics of each case.
Probation officers and judges work to tailor probation conditions to the individual circumstances of each probationer, with the goal of rehabilitation and public safety in mind.
The Most Common Probation Violations in Texas
In Texas, some probation violations are more common than others.
Here are the most frequent probation violations in the Lone Star State:
- Failure to report
- Positive drug tests
- Committing new offenses
- Failure to pay fines and restitution
- Neglecting community service
- Violation of residence restrictions
- Contact with victims or co-defendants
- Failure to maintain employment or education
- Curfew violation
- Possession of weapons
- Failure to attend required programs
Probation officers closely monitor probationers to ensure compliance with these conditions, and violations are taken seriously by the Texas criminal justice system.
Probation revocation is a more severe consequence that can result in probationers being sent to jail or prison to serve their original sentences. The outcome of a probation violation case in Texas can vary based on the specific circumstances, the probationer’s history, and the judge’s discretion.
Staying compliant with probation conditions is crucial to completing the probation and ultimately reintegrating into society as a law-abiding citizen.
If you or someone you know is on probation in Texas, it’s essential to take these conditions seriously and seek legal guidance if faced with potential violations.
What Happens at a Revocation Hearing?
No jury is involved during a probation revocation hearing in Texas; instead, a judge presides over the proceedings.
The District Attorney’s office bears the burden of proof. They must demonstrate that a probation violation occurred, and they must do so by meeting a standard of proof known as “preponderance of the evidence.”
The defendant and their defense attorney can challenge the prosecutor’s case, arguing that there was no probation violation or emphasizing that any violation was minor and not deserving of probation revocation.
If the judge determines that probation was not violated, the defendant continues probation without any further consequences, but if the judge rules that a violation occurred, they have two options:
- Probation Revocation and Jail: The judge may revoke probation and send the defendant to jail to serve their original sentence.
- Strengthening Probation Rules: The judge may impose stricter and possibly longer terms of probation in place of incarceration.
Probationers with a prior violation typically face challenges in qualifying for early termination. If you’re going to a probation revocation hearing, make sure you’re ready and have a lawyer to help you.
The result of the hearing can affect what happens next for you. It could mean you can keep doing probation, or it might lead to jail time and stricter probation rules.
Also, remember that the time you spent on probation won’t count if you go to jail because of the hearing.
What Does Law Enforcement Do When They Suspect a Violation?
When law enforcement or prosecutors are concerned about a probation violation, they take the matter to court.
In court, they initiate a process by filing a motion to adjudicate probation, and as a result, the court issues an arrest warrant. They typically stay in the county jail, and a revocation hearing will be planned.
What Is the Punishment for Probation Violation in Texas?
The consequences for violating your probation conditions hinge on the nature and seriousness of the alleged breach, local judicial trends, and the judge’s discretion.
If your mistake is not too big and you’ve been good with your probation officer, they might just give you a warning. They also look at things like if you’ve been warned before or if you did other wrong things before deciding.
Appear in Court
When someone on probation doesn’t follow the rules, they might end up in court for a violation hearing.
Contacting a lawyer is crucial if the court summons you to court for breaking probation rules. Your lawyer will assist you in preparing for the court hearing and advocating for the best possible outcome.
Probation May Be Extended
The judge may extend the original probation term when a probationer fails to pay court-ordered fees, court costs, fines, and restitution.
Serve Time in Jail
A judge may revoke your probation and send you back to jail or prison to serve the full sentence you otherwise would have faced for the original criminal offense.
Is Deferred Adjudication the Same as Probation?
Deferred adjudication and probation are similar in some respects but have different legal processes within the criminal justice system.
When granted deferred adjudication, a defendant enters a guilty, or no contest plea, and the judge postpones the formal adjudication of guilt. Instead of a conviction, the individual is placed on probation or community supervision and must adhere to specific court-ordered conditions.
If they complete the deferred adjudication period without violating any terms, the judge may dismiss their case, and they can avoid having a conviction on their record.
Probation typically follows a conviction. When someone is guilty of a crime, they can get probation as an alternative to incarceration. While on probation, they must comply with court-imposed conditions, such as reporting to a probation officer, attending required counseling or classes, and abiding by curfews or other restrictions.
Both deferred adjudication and probation involve supervision and adherence to specific conditions, but they differ regarding the defendant’s legal status and outcome.
What Can a Lawyer Do for Me If I Face a Probation Violation in Texas?
If you’re facing a probation violation, hire a criminal defense lawyer for:
- Legal Guidance: A lawyer can explain your rights and the legal process. They can help you understand the consequences of a probation violation and the options available.
- Case Evaluation: An experienced attorney can review the details of your case to determine whether the alleged violation is valid or if there are grounds to challenge it.
- Evidence Collection: Your lawyer can gather evidence, interview witnesses, and assess the strength of the prosecutor’s case to build a strong defense on your behalf.
- Negotiation: Your attorney may be able to negotiate a resolution that minimizes the impact of the violation, such as proposing alternative penalties or conditions.
- Advocacy in Court: If your case proceeds to a probation violation hearing, your lawyer will represent you. They will present your defense, cross-examine witnesses, and argue on your behalf.
- Mitigation: Your attorney can present information about your circumstances, such as any positive changes you’ve made during probation, to convince the judge to consider alternatives to revocation, such as stricter probation terms instead of jail time.
- Appeals: If you disagree with the outcome of your probation violation hearing, your attorney can advise you on the possibility of appealing the decision.
- Early Termination: If you are eligible, your lawyer can work towards early termination of your probation.
- Counsel and Support: A lawyer provides you with emotional support and guidance throughout the process.
The consequences of a probation violation can include incarceration and stricter probation terms.
Having a skilled attorney by your side can improve your chances of achieving a favorable outcome or minimizing the impact of the violation on your life.
Let Fulgham Hampton Criminal Defense Attorneys Help You Get Through This Probation Violation
Our lawyers at the Fulgham Hampton Criminal Defense Attorneys know a lot about Texas law and the people who live here. We are recognized for our excellent work by Expertise and other groups. Let’s discuss your options and put all of our assets behind your case today. Call (817) 877-3030.
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.