What Does Texas Say On Probation Violation?

Probation in Texas is like a second shot for people caught up in legal trouble, giving them a chance to turn things around. But it’s not always an easy ride, and when the rules of probation are broken, it creates big problems for both the people on probation and the legal system.

Regardless of the situation, it can often be quite perplexing and terrifying. Let’s break down what you should understand about probation in Texas and what can go down when you break the rules set by the court.

What is Probation?

In Texas, if someone is convicted, the judge may offer probation instead of jail time. They must follow specific rules, monitored by a probation officer. The terms of your probation vary by case, with felonies having stricter conditions. The court considers the severity of the criminal offense, criminal history, and public safety when deciding.

Probation is a punishment given by the court instead of going to jail. A judge, not a jury, decides on this sentence. It’s often given to people who are in trouble for the first time or for less serious crimes.

Types of Probation Terms

Felony Probation

If you commit a felony crime, you might have to serve at least 18 months of probation. During this time, someone from the Department of Corrections will keep an eye on you. This supervision can involve mandatory counseling, regular check-ins, curfews, GPS tracking, and drug tests, among other requirements.

Misdemeanor Probation 

Usually, for misdemeanor probation, the person has to follow the law, regularly meet with the probation officer, go to legal meetings, and get permission to travel across state borders.

Deferred Adjudication Probation

If someone violates probation during deferred adjudication, they’ll face the full range of criminal charges for the specific crime, rather than just those for a misdemeanor. This means the consequences are more substantial for probation violations.

Common Probation Terms

Probation is a legal opportunity with specific rules that must be violated. These conditions include:

  • Follow all laws.
  • Don’t commit new crimes.
  • Regularly meet with a probation officer.
  • Stay away from drugs and alcohol.
  • Attend meetings for addiction recovery.
  • See a counselor regularly.
  • Do community supervision or service.
  • Pay fines and restitution.
  • Stick to a curfew.
  • Stay within an assigned travel area.
  • Avoid contact with criminals.
  • Keep a job or seek work if unemployed.
  • Don’t carry firearms.

Understanding Probation Violations in Texas

According to the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, a court orders a person to participate in a program with rules and conditions for a set time. This happens in two ways:

  1. Criminal proceedings are delayed without a guilt decision.
  2. A sentence involving fines, jail, or confinement is put on hold, and the judgment is postponed.

Basically, it means the court holds off on making a decision, and instead of paying fines or going to jail, the person needs to stick to probation rules. Being on probation comes with specific rules, and if you violate the term, it’s considered a probation violation. Even if you’re not in jail, being on probation is like serving a sentence, so there are still restrictions on what you can do.

Types of Probation Violation

Technical Violation

A technical violation happens when you don’t meet a particular condition of your probation, like doing community service or taking a drug test. It’s not about committing new crimes; it’s about not keeping up with what you agreed to do during probation.

Substantive Violations

Substantive violations mean getting into new trouble, like committing new crimes or getting arrested again. These new crimes come with their own punishments and can also make the consequences of the original offense even worse.

What Happens When You Violate Probation?

1. Caution

If someone on probation messes up for the first time or it’s not a big deal, their probation officer might just give them a warning. This is more likely if they have a good relationship with their officer.

2. More Time on Probation

The judge could make the probation last longer, depending on how serious the violation is, the person’s history, the reason for the violation, and some other factors.

3. Stricter Probation Terms

The judge can extend probation and add more rules, like increased fines or community service. If someone breaks a specific rule, like travel restrictions, the judge might limit where they can go, make them wear a GPS tracker, or enforce a curfew.

4. Time in Jail

Probation is an alternative to jail, but a violation might lead to a few days in jail, either all at once or on weekends. For serious violations, the judge could make the person complete the remaining sentence in jail or prison.

5. Extra Rules

Judges can also add more things to the list of probation rules. The community service hours might go up a lot, fines could get bigger, and the person might have to attend more addiction recovery meetings or check in with their probation officer more often.

Arrested? Don’t Plea, Call Me!

In Texas, probation violations are serious, but they’re not the end. Understand your probation terms, know the consequences, and get a criminal defense attorney‘s help when needed. With the right guidance, a probation violation is just a detour, not a dead end.