Probation Revocation in Texas

The vast majority of criminal cases end with someone being put on some type of probation in Texas. This post is a quick summary of Probation Revocation in Texas. To find out more, go to my Probation Revocation Hearings Page. In Texas, probation is technically called Community Supervision. In a previous post I wrote about the difference between Deferred Adjudication Probation vs. Straight Probation. The difference between the two is very important. You should talk to your lawyer about the differences so that you know what you’re agreeing to and the positives/negatives of your choice.

At the beginning of your case, you probably accepted a plea bargain which included a type of probation. The plea bargain also included the Common Conditions of Probation. Conditions of probation violations are where revocation cases begin. The law on Probation Revocation in Texas is the same throughout the state. However, the way the law is applied can vary a little from county to county. Revocation of Probation hearings are held slightly differently in Travis County vs. Williamson County. Knowing the differences between the two can help you to best prepare for the Hearing.

Let’s use an example of John and his DWI case.

  • John was put on probation for Felony DWI for 2 years in prison, probated over 5 years.

 

Conditions of Probation and Revocation of Probation
  1. Revocation cases get filed when you stop following your conditions of probation. Using our example above, we’ll talk about John’s hypothetical case. Normally, John would be required to report to his probation officer at least once a month. John also has to keep an ignition interlock installed in his car, and it has to be serviced once a month. John has to pay supervision fees, attend alcohol treatment classes, avoid bars/clubs, and do community service. If John stops doing all or some of these conditions, the State will file a Motion to Revoke Probation
  2. State Files a Motion to Revoke Probation. These cases are filed by the County Attorney’s Office or District Attorney’s Office who handled your case. Using John’s example, the District Attorney would file a Motion to Revoke Probation. In the Motion to Revoke, the prosecutor and the probation officer would list the reasons for the revocation. Let’s say that John stopped going to his alcohol treatment classes for months and he has been driving a car without an ignition interlock installed. The Motion would include these violations and ask the Court to issue a Warrant of Arrest for John.
  3. Judge Signs an Order of Arrest for Violation of Conditions of Probation. This is usually the third step in the process. You’ve already popped up on your PO’s radar for not following the rules. The State and your PO have filed a request with the Court to have you revoked in the form of a Motion. Attached to the Motion to Revoke would also be an Order for Arrest and Detention of John. If the Judge signs the Order of Arrest, John will be picked up by the police. Now, with this type of Warrant and for this type of violation of probation, police aren’t likely going to kick in the door on John for this arrest warrant.
  4. Motion to Revoke Probation – Hearing. This is the date set by the Court where the Judge will hear your side of the story and the State and PO’s side of the story. There are many details that the Judge will want to hear about your case. Bring any evidence you can to the hearing if you have reasons why your conditions have not been met. Using John’s example, the Judge would want to know the following:
    • How long has John been on probation?
    • Has John had any violations before these?
    • Why did John miss his classes?
    • Why has he been driving a car without the ignition interlock?
    • What is John’s financial situation?
    • What other conditions are being followed or bent?
Possible Outcomes After a Revocation of Probation Hearing
  1. Hearing Results – Judge Decides to Continue/Extend Probation. Depending on how severe the break in conditions of probation were, the Judge will likely Continue or Extend your Probation. If John has been on probation and doing well for years, without issues, the Judge will likely continue John on probation. This too, however depends on John’s reasons for breaking the conditions he did. Maybe John was out of work, his car broke down, or he was in a serious accident which left him unable to follow his conditions. John was able to show the Judge a letter of termination from work and medical records from his hospital stays. These are valid reasons for not abiding by the terms of probation. On the flip side, let’s say the Judge decides to Extend Probation for John. John had no evidence to bring and he stopped following his conditions because they were too costly and he felt he was getting less benefit out of the alcohol classes. Maybe John also has been messing up a couple times a year when it comes to checking in with his PO. These may be good reasons for the Judge to extend John’s conditions of probation.
  2. Hearing Results – Judge Decides to Revoke Probation. Now it’s important to keep in mind the difference between Deferred Adjudication and Straight Probation.(If you’re on a Deferred Adjudication, technically the State would file a Motion to Adjudicate). Since we’re using the example of a DWI we’re talking about Straight Probation. John was originally sentenced to 2 years, probated for 5 years, remember? Well, if the Judge decides to revoke John, John could be sentenced up to 2 years in prison. This is due to the terms of his plea bargain and his acceptance of probation. This is the worst case scenario for John.
Summary

Follow your Conditions of Probation and stay on good terms with your PO. Doing this is worth its weight in gold for you and your case. Your PO serves as the gatekeeper. Check in regularly with him or her to get expectations set off right from the beginning. When in doubt, ask your PO for permission if and when life happens. A little effort towards that now can save a lot of heartache later.

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