Although there is much debate surrounding current probationary conditions and whether they are individualized enough to be effective for those re-entering the community, one thing is certain – every convicted felon in the Tarrant County Community Supervision program who violates their terms of probation becomes subject to additional penalties.
The “terms” of probation are basically the rules that you agree to live by in order to stay on probation. They include requirements like committing no other criminal offenses, abstaining from illegal use of controlled substances, paying your assessed fees, court costs, and restitution, and neither owning nor possessing firearms.
In this post we’re going to take a look at some of the penalties you may face if you are caught violating your probation in this county.
Receiving a Warning
Probation officers actually have broad discretion when it comes to handling reported probation violations. If you are able to develop a rapport with your probation officer, he or she may engage in “lighter handling,” such as only giving you a warning should you violate your conditions at some point or another.
Don’t just assume that this will happen, though. Your assigned officer is likely to consider not only the severity of the current violation, but also any past warnings or violations, as well as other considerations.
In other words, build your relationship with the intention of not violating your conditions, and if you do, you may be granted a warning – once.
Required to Appear
More likely, when you do not abide by the conditions of your supervision, you will be requested to appear in court. A variety of penalties can be applied, including the following:
- Imposition of additional probation terms such as rehabilitation, “boot camp,” or other correctional programs
- Serving a brief stint in jail before release back into the program
- Revocation of your community supervision participation altogether to serve remaining time on the original sentence in prison
If you are facing probation violation charges, consulting a knowledgeable legal advisor can be an important step in understanding your rights and receiving guidance to avoid additional penalties.
Extending Your Term
Paying probation fees, in addition to fines and restitution, can be crippling when it comes to getting your affairs in order and your life back on track. However, in many cases where the term of community supervision has been extended, it is due to non-payment of these monies.
Normally, a judge can extend an initial probation term for a felony case by any period within a total sentence of 10 years, and a misdemeanor by three years. The exception is if a defendant fails to pay previously assessed fines, costs or restitution. In that case the probationary period may be extended by an additional two years.
Recreational Travel Nixed
Another point of note: if you hope to be granted permission from your probation officer for any recreational travel permits, but are delinquent on probation fees, they will not be approved.
Serve a Max Sentence
If your probation is actually a part of deferred adjudication, and you are returned to the judge due to violations, you may be found guilty of your original offense and sentenced within the full range of punishment allowed by the Texas Penal Code for that original crime. This is because when you’ve been granted participation through deferred adjudication, you were not actually convicted of a crime yet. Your violation, in essence, has offered the judge enough information to make the judgement call that they originally deferred.
When you are granted entrance into the program, it is important to recognize that your ability to take part is a privilege, and that privilege may be revoked for non-compliance at any time. This is a huge opportunity you’ve been given to get a jump-start at getting back to your regular life. Make the most of it. Follow these rules for a short time, and you’ll get to enjoy your life again sooner.
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.