A probation violation is an offense occurring when you break any of the conditions a court assigned in conjunction with your probation.
While there are no official procedures for what happens immediately after a defendant violates probation, officers have wide discretion for how they’d like to handle the offense. Next steps usually depend on the type of condition you violated, whether you’ve previously been in violation, and the relationship you’ve built with your probation officer. If you are officially charged with violating your probation, you will typically receive a request to appear in court.
In today’s post, we look at six common probation violation charges, as well as possible defenses against them. After reading, if you are still unsure whether your personal circumstances allow for a valid argument to fight back against your charges, reach out to an experienced Texas probation violation attorney for advice.
VIOLATION: Failure to Report | DEFENSE: It Was Impossible to Come
There are only certain circumstances when the court considers nonappearance involuntary. A lack of transportation, forgetfulness, and being tardy do not constitute impossibility. However, when you can present official documentation to the court that you were unable to attend your scheduled appointment for a valid reason, a judge may drop the charges.
Two instances which may apply are hospitalization or incarceration, although the latter probably won’t fair well either.
VIOLATION: Failure to Pay | DEFENSE: Indigence Prevented You from Doing So
When you are in a situation where you are unable to provide yourself and your family with basic necessities – food, clothing, and shelter – you may be entitled to fight back against charges of probation violation due to non-payment.
About a year ago, The Texas Indigent Defense Commission (TIDC) awarded more than a million dollars in new grants to 11 counties across the state. Gathering documentation of your income and regular expenses and checking in with the TIDC may provide the relief you need.
VIOLATION: Failure to Complete Education | DEFENSE: Medical Issues Prevented You
Sometimes, judges require defendants to complete high school or a GED program as a probationary condition, but the person is unable to achieve success because of an issue such as a learning disability, illiteracy, or mental illness.
Although these are concerns that your defense attorney should have addressed at the time your conditions were initially set, depending upon the court, this may be a valid defense for non-completion. However, you must supply official documentation of your medical condition.
VIOLATION: Failure to Submit Documentation | DEFENSE: Can Provide Documentation Now
One or more of your probationary conditions likely included participation in some kind of rehabilitation or diversion program appropriate to the crime(s) of which you were convicted. When you successfully complete those programs, you receive documentation saying so.
In the event you have completed the program successfully and within required time constraints, the court may forgive the violation on the new condition that you submit the proper documentation within a certain time frame.
VIOLATION: Positive Test Results | DEFENSE: There’s a Valid Reason
This is one of the most common violations of probation we come across, and just like the other violations we’ve shared above – you either have a good reason for testing positive or you don’t.
When you can prove you’ve got a good reason, your potential defenses include:
- False positive readings
- Valid prescriptions
- Substance was in the system prior to being placed on probation
If you can prove one of these valid reasons, the court may dismiss your charges on the condition you retake the test at a later date and that test yields a negative result.
VIOLATION: Contact with Victim | DEFENSE: Victim Made Contact
Often, and especially when the defendant was previously the breadwinner of a household, an alleged victim will initiate contact with him or her. In these situations, the blame game is never the answer.
However, explaining the situation and asking to seek remedy by having the no-contact provision be lifted by the court may be an option. You will need to work to show that it was not you who made initial contact – phone records of incoming calls or texts, for instance, can help.
In cases of domestic violence, the request is usually denied, but making an effort to explain the situation and seek a valid remedy shows your willingness to meet your probationary conditions by whatever means necessary.
When you’re so close to the end, the last thing you want is to be sent back to square one all over again, facing new charges and penalties for violating probation. When you have a valid excuse, it’s always worth fighting back.
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.