You have probably heard of probation because it is a common term thrown around on TV shows and in movies. Depending on what you have heard, probation may seem like either a breeze or a cruel punishment with Uncle Sam constantly looking over your shoulder. Essentially, the specifics of your probation sentence will affect how positively you view the situation, but many people appreciate probation because it is a period in which your jail or prison sentence is suspended and you can live in your community while you finish your punishment. Instead of spending time incarcerated, the courts allow you to live at home or on your own so long as you follow certain rules. The length and exact terms of your probation depend on your conviction, previous criminal history, and whether the court views you as a risk to the public.
If you are currently on probation and are unsure of your rights or the rules you need to follow, contact Houston criminal defense attorney Ned Barnett at (713) 222-6767 right away. Barnett can help you understand your probation conditions and avoid committing any violations.
Probation in Texas
Texas law refers to probation as community supervision and it can arise in multiple situations. You can be granted probation after being convicted of a crime, though probation is not available for every offense. Your jail sentence can be probated, allowing you to live and work in your community. Probation is not the same as parole, which arises when you have been released from prison.
Texas also offers probation through deferred adjudication. Under deferred adjudication, you are given a probation sentence to complete without having gone to trial. If you complete your probation successfully you will not have a conviction on your record. However, if you violate the terms of probation for deferred adjudication, you will then face trial for the offense.
Common Probation Conditions
Your probation terms and conditions will depend on what the judge or jury decide or how well your attorney negotiates on your behalf. However, many probation conditions are standard including:
- Do not violate any laws
- Do not use any illegal drugs or alcohol
- Complete an alcohol or drug rehabilitation program
- Submit to drug testing
- Avoid people and places with a bad reputation or poor character
- Complete your high school education or GED
- Maintain a job
- Follow a curfew
- Obey travel restriction
- Report any change of address
- Allow home inspections
- Complete community service hours
- Report to a probations officer on a regular basis
- Pay restitution to victims
- Support your dependents
Following all of the terms and conditions of your probation can be incredibly difficult, and minor mistakes can have a significant effect on your future. One common probation violation is failing to report a change in your circumstances in a timely manner. For example, you may have to report that you moved within a certain period of time. If you are late, that is a violation. It is the same if you change jobs or are let go. You need to notify your probations officer immediately.
Another common violation has to do with checking in with your probations office at regular intervals, possibly every week or every month. If you miss a meeting because your car broke down or you had another obligation, this is a violation.
Many probation violations are not because you disregard the rules or break the law. You simply did not know the rules well enough or made a mistake. It is all too easy to mess up just a little and face major consequences.
The Process for Alleged Violations
If you allegedly violate a condition of your probation, your probations officer may be able to get a warrant for your arrest, though this can depend on if he or she believes public safety is an issue. Even if you are not immediately arrested, you are required to go back to court to face additional consequences. This is known as a revocation hearing. You will have a chance at the hearing to defend yourself. A Houston probation violation lawyer can argue that you did not violate the terms of your probation and that you should be able to continue on probation.
If you were given probation after a conviction, you may face having your probation revoked and being sent to jail or having additional conditions placed on you during probation. If you are sent to jail, you can only be sentenced to the maximum punishment determined upon your conviction. For example, if you were sentenced to 10 years in prison, probated for 5 years, you can only be sent to prison for up to 10 years.
If you were placed on probation because of deferred adjudication, one violation could mean that you now face the entire punishment range for the offense you are on probation for. You will no longer be able to avoid having a criminal conviction on your record. You can be sentenced to the maximum punishment available under the law for the offense if you are found guilty.
Fighting an Alleged Violation
At your revocation hearing, you can plead true or not true to the allegations before the judge. Because a revocation hearing is an administrative process, you have the right to an attorney but you do not have a right to a trial by a jury. Your lawyer will argue in front of the judge, not a jury. The state prosecutors, who filed the request for revoking your probation, only have to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that you violated probation. This is a lower standard than in a criminal trial.
If you lose at this hearing, you have the right to appeal your probation revocation.
How Houston Probation Violation Lawyer Ned Barnett Can Help
Ned Barnett is a skilled and certified criminal lawyer in Texas. He has more than 30 years of experience, first as a prosecutor and then as a criminal defense attorney. Barnett understands both sides of the courtroom. He knows that prosecutors feel they are doing their jobs and working for the best of the community. But Barnett is there to ensure that the prosecutors do not go too far and punish you for honest mistakes in regard to your probation. If you are facing an alleged probation violation, Barnett can defend you at your revocation hearing and help you stay on probation.
Call the Law Offices of Ned Barnett at (713) 222-6767.