What is Probation in Texas? Probation vs. Deferred Adjudication

Understanding Probation in Texas

Probation in Texas is one of the two forms of “community supervision” authorized by law. Community supervision consists of programs, sanctions, and conditions set forth by a court that a person has to meet as an alternative to jail or prison. Community supervision (formerly called adult probation) may be ordered for misdemeanor or felony offenses and is generally imposed in lieu of a jail or prison sentence.

A person receives probation or is placed on community supervision in Texas after a plea of guilty and a finding of guilt and the person is ordered to comply with the conditions of community supervision instead of receiving a jail or prison sentence. A Texas probation lawyer could help. Our team of attorneys could further explain this process and work to get you the best possible outcome under the circumstances.

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How long can you be on probation in Texas?

A felony can generally be probated for up to ten years. A misdemeanor punishable by jail can be probated for up to two years.

What are the general conditions of probation in Texas?

The judge sets conditions of probation. The most common conditions of probation or deferred adjudication in Texas requires that a probationer:

  • Not violate any other laws
  • Avoid any bad conduct including use of illegal controlled substances
  • Avoid bad people and places.
  • Report as directed by probation office: Generally once a month
  • Be subject to house inspections
  • Maintain a job
  • Support your dependents
  • Advise probation officer of any address or job change
  • Execute a waiver of extradition
  • Submit to drug testing
  • Pay probation supervision fees, Crime Stopper fees, and court costs
  • Complete GED or obtain high school diploma
  • Complete any classes required by probation officer
  • Abide by limitations on travel
  • Abide by a curfew
  • Pay restitution, if any, to crime victim
  • Complete community service
  • Complete a psychological or psychiatric evaluation

In Tarrant County, felony probation officers supervise approximately 130 people in any given month.  Most adult probationers are ordered to report once a month for half-hour meetings.  Probationers on more serious offenses might have in-home visits or inspections and field visits by a probation officer.

Can you get early release from probation in Texas?

A judge may release a person from probation early for most cases at 1/3 time, when it is in the best interest of society and the probationer. This is discretionary. However, a review at 1/2 time is mandatory upon request. Even though this type of review is mandatory upon request, however, a probationer does not have a right to early termination. Instead, it is purely discretionary on the part of the judge to allow someone to be released from probation early.

When is probation not available?

Probation in Texas is not available for sentences that are 10 years or longer. While juries are allowed to probate most offenses, judges face limitations on which offenses may and may not be probated. These limitations were set out in Code of Criminal Procedure 42.12 Section 3g and these offenses are known as “3g offenses” in Texas. They are now set out in Article 42A.054 but are still referred to as “3g offenses.”

What are the differences between deferred adjudication and straight probation?

Deferred adjudication probation

Can I get an early release for a DWI in Texas?

Texas does not allow early release from a DWI in Texas. However, a judge may allow a person to go to non-reporting status after the probationer has completed half their term. The judge may also authorize the early removal of interlock.

How many people are on probation in Texas?

In 2018, there were nearly 368,000 individuals on probation in Texas, according to prison policy initiative. Approximately 726,000 people were incarcerated or under criminal justice supervision.

Probation Revocation and Double Jeopardy

The Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution and Article 1, Section 14 of the Texas Constitution protects an accused person against being punished for the same offense twice.

No person, for the same offense, shall be twice put in jeopardy of life or liberty, nor shall a person be again put upon trial for the same offense, after a verdict of not guilty in a court of competent jurisdiction. Tex. Const. art. I, § 14.

When a person violates a condition of probation by committing a new offense, the person is subject to being punished first for the probation violation and second for the new offense. This is not, however, a violation of double jeopardy. The reason for this is the revocation is punishment for the underlying offense while the sentence on the new case is just that: punishment on a separate matter.

Ex parte Tarver

In Tarver, the defendant was found guilty of possession of cocaine and was granted probation for ten years. The following year, the defendant was charged with assault. The State moved to revoke his probation, based on the allegation that he had violated the terms of his probation by committing the assault. The question on appeal was whether a revocation based on the new offense would constitute double jeopardy. The Court of Criminal Appeals determined that although Tarver was twice placed in risk of punishment, the punishment would be for different offenses and therefore double jeopardy did not apply.  Ex parte Tarver, 725 S.W.2d 195 (Tex. Crim. App. 1986).

What’s the difference between probation and parole?

People often use the terms probation and parole interchangeably, but they are not the same thing. Board Certified Criminal Defense Attorney Anna Summersett explains in this video.

Retain a Texas Probation Attorney for Help With a Case

For legal help with your case, reach out to a Texas probation lawyer today. We can help. Call today to speak to an experienced attorney with our firm.

For more information, please reference Article 42A.054

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