Texas Probation Rules

Attorney Trey Porter
Trey Porter

Texas Probation Rules

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WHAT IS PROBATION IN TEXAS?

Probation is a legal alternative to incarceration where a Defendant serves their sentence outside of jail or prison on community supervision under certain conditions set by the court. Probation conditions are designed to ensure a defendant leads a law-abiding life and does not pose a threat to society. In some cases, successful completion of probation can lead to a dismissal of charges or a discharge from probation, while a violation can result in additional consequences, including incarceration.

  • What are the rules of probation in Texas? Probation in Texas is governed by Chapter 42A of the Code of Criminal Procedure which also provides a list of rules and conditions available to the court. These rules generally require a Defendant to refrain from further crimes, avoid drugs and alcohol, complete community service hours, and attend regular meetings with a probation officer. Additionally, certain criminal charges carry specific probation rules, like intoxication offenses which frequently require sobriety counseling, drug and alcohol testing, license suspension, and an ignition interlock device.
  • What crimes usually get probation in Texas? The most common offense for those on probation are minor, first-time criminal charges. However, the law does allow probation for many offenses in the Texas Penal Code. Probation is ultimately less likely with violent offenses, repeat offenders with lengthy criminal records, and deadly weapon cases.

WHO IS INELIGIBLE FOR PROBATION IN TEXAS?

Those convicted of severe offenses like Capital Murder, and Continuous Sexual Assault of a Child, and those with prison sentences longer than 10 years are ineligible for probation. Texas Code of Criminal Procedure sections 42A.054 and 42A.056 provide the specific statute limits to probation eligibility in Texas and should be consulted for an exhaustive list.

  • Which offender is most likely to be on probation? First-time offenders with minor criminal charges are the most likely to be on probation in Texas. However, even repeat offenders are eligible for probation in many circumstances. A strong mitigation case can increase the likelihood of probation though the ultimate say rests with the sentencing judge or jury.

WHAT ARE THE TWO TYPES OF PROBATION IN TEXAS?

The two types of probation in Texas are regular community supervision probation and deferred adjudication. With regular probation, the court finds the Defendant guilty but the sentence is suspended (probated) and the Defendant is placed on community supervision. With deferred adjudication the court defers a finding of guilt and places the Defendant on probation where if the Defendant successfully completes the probation period, the case is dismissed without conviction. Both types of probation require the Defendant to comply with community supervision conditions or risk revocation and incarceration.

  • What is the most common form of probation? Straight probation is more common than deferred adjudication probation in Texas. This is primarily because many offenses are statutorily not eligible for deferred adjudication, like DWI 2nd offense and felony DWI
  • What is the lowest form of probation? The lowest level of probation is unsupervised misdemeanor probation as it is the least restrictive form though it is generally only available on minor offenses and in limited circumstances. Courts can require different lengths of probation, from 3 months, up to 2 years on a misdemeanor offense, for example. 

WHAT IS THE LONGEST YOU CAN BE ON PROBATION?

The maximum probation length for a felony is 10 years in Texas. The maximum term for a misdemeanor is 2 years but the judge can impose an additional year following a revocation proceeding. Furthermore, in situations where the court believes the Defendant has the financial means to complete payment of any outstanding costs, fines, or fees, the court can add an additional 2 years. Consequently, the maximum misdemeanor probation term is 5 years.

  • What is the normal probation period? A normal misdemeanor probation period lasts between 12 to 18 months. Felony probation normally lasts about 3 to 6 years.
  • What happens during probation in Texas? Offenders must comply with all court conditions and meet regularly with their supervision officer during probation in Texas. Offenders must refrain from further criminal conduct and avoid injurious habits, places, and people. Probation frequently requires community service hours and payment of fees and fines. Additionally, many Defendants must remain within their home county while on probation in Texas.

WHAT ARE THE PROBATION CONDITIONS IN TEXAS?

Probation conditions are the rules an offender must follow. These can include regular reporting with a probation officer, maintaining employment, attending counseling, sobriety, or rehabilitation programs, community service, paying fines and restitution, and avoiding any additional criminal activity. The sentencing judge determines probation conditions by considering the nature of the offense and the needs of the Defendant.

  • What are the two types of probation conditions and how do they differ? Two types of probation conditions in Texas are requirements an offender must complete, like paying fines, and behaviors they must avoid, like further criminal conduct. Failing to complete probation requirements and avoid prohibited conduct can both result in a probation violation in Texas.
  • What is the most common condition of probation? Common probation conditions include payment of fines and court fees, curfew, completion of community service hours, and regular meetings with a probation officer. Offenders must also frequently maintain employment and refrain from further criminal acts. Additionally, certain offenses carry specific probation conditions. For example, domestic violence cases often require battering intervention courses.

HOW MUCH IS PROBATION A MONTH IN TEXAS?

Monthly probation costs in Texas vary across the state and depend on the total fine, court costs, and supervisory fees set by the sentencing court. In a typical case, the judge will order the total amount be paid out in monthly installments throughout the probation period. Probation requirements, like sobriety counseling or an ignition interlock device, can also increase the total cost of probation in Texas.

  • What are probation fees in Texas? Probation fees are the financial obligations associated with probation such as fines, court costs, restitution, and supervisory fees. Texas Code of Criminal Procedure Article 42A.652 sets the supervisory reimbursement fee, which ranges between $25 to $60 a month. Probation fees vary by case and are ultimately set by the court upon consideration of the case and the Defendant’s financial status.
  • Is probation hard in Texas? Probation can be challenging for those individuals who struggle at complying with strict court conditions and requirements. On the other hand, probation is a preferable alternative to incarceration that allows an offender to maintain their employment and remain in their community.

DO YOU HAVE TO HAVE A JOB WHILE ON PROBATION IN TEXAS?

Yes, Texas probation conditions frequently require that offenders maintain gainful employment or enrollment as a student, or be actively seeking employment.

  • Can you drink alcohol on probation in Texas? No, general Texas probation conditions frequently prohibit alcohol consumption and require regular drug and alcohol testing. Additionally, drug and intoxication offenses often require a controlled substance abuse dependency evaluation and treatment where appropriate.
  • Can you go to a bar on probation in Texas? No, Texas probation conditions frequently prohibit offenders from visiting bars, defined generally as establishments that generate a majority of their income from alcohol. Offenders must avoid bars even when not consuming alcohol.

CAN YOU HAVE A GUN ON PROBATION IN TEXAS?

Probation conditions usually prohibit the possession or purchase of firearms in Texas. Additionally, offenders on felony probation are legally prohibited from possessing a firearm by virtue of their felony conviction.

  • Can you leave Texas while on probation? Probation conditions typically require an offender to remain in Texas unless the court grants them permission to leave the state.
  • Can a probation officer search your house? Yes, Texas probation conditions typically require that an offender allow their officer or law enforcement to search their vehicle or home upon request.

IS TEXAS PROBATION STRICT?

Texas probation requires strict compliance with its conditions and requirements. Failure to do so can result in a probation violation and incarceration.

  • How strict is Texas probation? While a probation violation can lead to a revocation proceeding, it doesn’t always result in full revocation and incarceration. Texas law requires a hearing where an offender can demonstrate good cause or provide mitigating circumstances so as to remediate the outcome. The judge can then impose a variety of different punishments, such as additional community service hours, or substance abuse treatment and education, in lieu of revocation.
  • What is the strictest form of probation? Felony probation is generally the strictest form of probation in Texas. Probation generally considers felony crimes as severe in nature which results in a greater degree of supervision. Additionally, a felony probation revocation is subject to lengthier imprisonment.

WHAT VIOLATES PROBATION IN TEXAS?

Failure to comply with probation conditions or complete its requirements violates probation in Texas. Committing further crimes or failing a drug test also violates probation in Texas. For a greater exploration of Texas probation violations, please review our extensive article on the topic.

  • What happens if you get a DUI while on probation in Texas? Committing any criminal offense, including DUI, is a probation violation in Texas which can result in revocation and incarceration.
  • What happens if you fail a breathalyzer while on probation in Texas? Failed breathalyzer tests are reported to probation and can lead to a revocation proceeding and incarceration in Texas.

WHAT HAPPENS IF YOU FAIL PROBATION IN TEXAS?

Failing to complete probation requirements or abide by its conditions can lead to motion to revoke probation, an arrest warrant, a revocation hearing, and incarceration in Texas. Additionally, not all offenders are entitled to bail for a probation revocation. For more information on Texas probation violations, please review our extensive article on the topic.

  • How not to fail probation? Offenders should be fully aware of all probation requirements and carefully review their conditions to ensure full compliance. They should consult with their probation officer for clarification and consult an experienced Texas criminal defense lawyer or law firm if necessary.
  • Who can revoke your probation in Texas? Texas judges revoke probation in Texas upon a violation report by the probation officer and the filing of a motion for revocation of probation by the district attorney or prosecutor.

CAN A FELON GET PROBATION IN TEXAS?

Yes, felons are eligible for probation in Texas.

  • What felonies are eligible for probation Texas? Many felonies are eligible for probation in Texas including felony intoxication offenses, drug charges, and white collar crime like Theft. However, severe offenses like Capital Murder, and Continuous Sexual Assault of a Child, and felonies resulting in prison sentences longer than 10 years are generally ineligible for probation. Texas Code of Criminal Procedure sections 42A.054 and 42A.056 provide lists of felonies that do not qualify for probation in Texas.
  • What is shock probation in Texas? Shock probation is a legal mechanism allowing a convicted felon to be sentenced to prison initially and, after a short period of up to 180 days, be released to serve the remainder of their sentence on probation. The judge retains jurisdiction over the case after sentencing the defendant to a maximum 10 years prison and must grant the probation before 180 days expire.

HOW DOES PROBATION END IN TEXAS?

Probation and its supervision automatically terminates at the end of the probation period. However, failure to complete all probation conditions can result in an extension of the probation period.

  • What happens at the end of the probation period? The probation officer will typically advise the offender they do not need to report again and clear them for termination. Once termination has been confirmed, the offender can proceed without further community supervision or probation obligations.
  • What to expect after probation? At the end of the probation period, a Defendant should request verification of termination from their probation officer. Once this is received the Defendant has no further obligation to report or complete any additional requirements.

CAN PROBATION BE REDUCED IN TEXAS?

Yes, an effective legal defense and mitigation strategy can reduce overall probation length at plea bargain and sentencing. Those already on community supervision can also reduce their probation by seeking early termination in Texas.

  • How can I reduce my probation time in Texas? Defendants can reduce their probation time by implementing a dynamic mitigation strategy that highlights their positive character attributes at sentencing. Those seeking early release from community supervision must do so by filing a motion for early termination of probation in the court of jurisdiction.

CAN YOU GET OFF PROBATION EARLY IN TEXAS?

Yes, defendants can get off probation early by filing a motion for early termination of probation in Texas. However, early termination is not available for those on DWI probation including felony offenses like Intoxication Assault and Intoxication Manslaughter.

  • How can I get off probation early in Texas? Defendants can get off probation early by filing a motion for early termination of probation in the court of jurisdiction. The Defendant will ideally have completed all conditions of probation with little to no issues or infractions. In certain circumstances the court can even order a hearing where the Defendant and the prosecutor can present evidence and argument concerning the early termination before judgment is rendered.

HOW EARLY CAN YOU GET OFF PROBATION IN TEXAS?

Defendants on regular community supervision probation can get early release once they’ve completed the lesser of 1/3 or 2 years of their supervisory period. Deferred adjudication probation allows early termination at any point during the supervisory period in Texas.

  • Can you get off probation early in Texas for DUI? A Defendant can obtain early termination if they are on DWI deferred adjudication. However, early termination is not available for those on regular DWI probation in Texas.

WHAT ARE THE PROS OF PROBATION?

Probation serves as a beneficial means to rehabilitate offenders while minimizing the societal and financial costs of incarceration. Defendants are allowed to remain productive members of society, maintain familial and community ties, and even receive treatment for any underlying issues like substance abuse or mental health problems. Additionally, those on deferred adjudication can avoid a final conviction upon successful completion of probation.

  • What are the downsides of probation? Probation conditions can be strict and varied, including regular check-in, drug tests, and community service. Additionally, probationary periods can be lengthy, requiring continued extended compliance. If the Defendant fails to comply with probation, they are subject to additional punishment including incarceration.
  • What is the success rate of probation in Texas? Probation has varying success rates across the state. Probation success ultimately depends on the Defendant’s ability to meet court conditions and requirements.

HOW MANY CASES DO PROBATION OFFICERS HANDLE AT A TIME?

Probation officers handle several cases at any given moment which can create communication issues for Defendants. This is compounded in large urban areas where probation officers are tasked with supervising many defendants at a time. It is advised that Defendants communicate through written means, like email, so as to alleviate any potential problems with their officers.

  • Should I be worried about probation period? Probation is challenging in Texas but Defendants should be proactive in satisfying requirements and communicating any issues with their probation officer or criminal defense attorney if necessary. Disregarding probation conditions and not communicating will immediately compound problems throughout the probation period.
  • What changes after probation period? Successful completion of the probation period will release a Defendant from supervision and any further obligations to the court. Defendants should request written confirmation of termination at the end of their probation period in Texas.

WHY IS PROBATION A GOOD PUNISHMENT?

Probation allows Defendants to avoid incarceration and instead focus on their rehabilitation, if necessary, and remain gainfully employed in their communities. From a criminal justice, societal and financial perspective, probation is largely a preferable and less-expensive disposition for certain offenders. Deferred adjudication even allows Defendants to avoid a final conviction and seal offense records in certain circumstances.

  • What are the four goals of probation? Probation is generally intended to reduce crime, reduce recidivism, provide restitution to and restore victims, and promote healthy communities.

TEXAS EARLY TERMINATION LAWYERS

Trey Porter Law provides powerful representation for people facing criminal charges in Texas, including those seeking to get off probation early. TPL brings over 40 years of combined experience, strategic knowledge, and a hard-earned reputationof winning to every case the firm takes on. The top-rated lawyers at Trey Porter Law have a steadfast commitment to uncompromising results. 

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Attorney Trey Porter

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Trey Porter is one of the highest-rated criminal defense attorneys in Texas. Nationally recognized, Mr. Porter relentlessly fights to protect and assert his clients’ constitutional rights in and out of courtrooms across the state.

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