Length of Probation and Early Termination
I know that I’ve written over and over about the role of plea bargains and probation in the criminal justice system. One post that sums it up nicely is 3 Ways Your Criminal Case Can End. Plea bargaining and probation often go hand in hand in a criminal case. It’s important to know that there are 2 Types of Probation in Texas. In this post, I’m only focusing on Straight Probation, NOT Deferred Adjudication. Just because you were put on probation for a period of years, doesn’t mean that you can’t ask the Court to terminate your probation early. The length of probation and early termination depend on the facts of your case.
Here are some links to what I’ve written on Probation:
- Conditions of Probation in Texas
- Probation Revocation Hearings
- What Happens If You Violate Probation
How Long Will You Be on Probation?
Timetables for Straight Probation
Depending on the level of crime you were charged with, the length of probation you’re facing is different. Certain crimes may have mandatory minimum probation times within these ranges.
Level of Crime Range of Probation
- First Degree Felony 5 – 10 Years
- Second Degree Felony 2 – 10 Years
- Third Degree Felony 2 – 10 Years
- State Jail Felony 2 – 5 Years
- Class A/B Misdemeanor 1 Day – 2 Years
The important thing to keep in mind is that for the purposes of your criminal record, being placed on a Straight Probation counts as a conviction. This means that it will pop up on background checks and you will NOT be able to seal it from your record. Normally, the amount of years of probation can be worked out in a plea bargain. That way, you know what you’re agreeing to beforehand. Ultimately, it’s up to the Judge to decide the length of probation if you do not have a plea agreement.
Early Termination of Probation in Texas
There is light at the end of the tunnel. Under Texas law, you can ask the Court for an early termination of your probation when certain things are met. First, you can’t early terminate intoxication related probations or crimes which require you to register as a sex offender. Second, you must complete at least half the term of probation OR two years (whichever is greater).
The Judge is NOT required to terminate your probation early. The Judge only has to consider terminating your probation early. This basically means that you do not have a Consitutional right or statutory right to have your probation ended early by the Court.
What does the Court consider when terminating probation early?
Like other aspects of the law, the Judge would consider a variety of factors. First and foremost will be the completion or lack of completion of your conditions of probation. Normally, a Judge would want all your conditions fulfilled that can be fulfilled when you request and early termination. Keeping your Probation Officer on your good side througout your probation period can help you a lot when you want to ask for an early termination. For example:
- Are all your fines and Court costs paid?
- Have you paid restitution?
- Have you complete your community service hours?
- Have you gone to treatment/counseling? What were the results?
- Has your Probation Officer tried to revoke your probation in the past?
- Have you broke any laws while on probation?
As a result of the early termination being left up to the Judge, many factors can be considered. If the Judge denies your request for early termination, then the Judge has to give you written reasons for the denial and include any unfulfilled conditions of probation. If you’ve had Probation Revocation Hearings, then they can come back to haunt you later on. Ideally, every request for early termination of probation would be granted. However, if you’re going to ask for an early termination, make sure your conditions are fulfilled beforehand. Again, your plea agreement, the facts of your case, and your track record while on probation will determine the length of probation and possibility for early termination.
Feel free to post comments/questions.