After years of being under the thumb of the court and probation department, obtaining the help of a Houston criminal defense attorney to get your probation terminated early is an excellent option to consider. Getting your probation terminated early can be the first step to putting your brush with the law behind you and moving forward with your life.
First you should consult with a criminal defense lawyer to see if you are eligible for early termination of your probation. Different rules apply depending on whether you were sentenced to regular probation or a deferred adjudication. These rules will determine whether you are eligible for an early termination of probation and how long you must wait before a lawyer can file the motion on your behalf. Any lawyer can file a motion on your behalf – not necessarily the lawyer who handled your case.
If you are completing a regular probation, under Texas Criminal Code of Procedure 42A.701, you can ask for early termination at any time after you have completed one-third or two years of the original supervision period (whichever is less). You cannot receive early termination for Driving While Intoxicated (or other intoxication related offenses), any offense requiring sex offender registration, or any serious offense listed under Texas Code of Criminal Procedure 42A.054. This includes offenses like murder, aggravated kidnapping, trafficking of persons, aggravated sexual assault, injury to a child, injury to elderly, aggravated robbery, burglary. In general, there are more legal hurdles to getting your probation terminated early if you are serving a regular probation so you should consult with an experienced criminal defense lawyer to see if you are eligible.
If you are on a deferred adjudication, there are fewer legal obstacles. Under Texas Code of Criminal Procedure 42A.111, there is no waiting period (theoretically, a judge could immediately discharge someone placed on probation, although I have never heard of that happening in the Houston area). Additionally, the only offenses for which you cannot receive an early termination are offenses requiring sex offender registration. This is one of the advantages of a deferred adjudication (although it is important to remember that a deferred can have drawbacks if you are to violate your probation).
Just because you are eligible doesn’t mean that the judge will grant an early termination. A judge will verify that you have not violated your probation and have completed all of the requirements before considering a motion for early termination. Additionally, in the Houston area, many judges follow an unwritten rule that defendants should complete ½ of the term of their probation whether the probation was a regular probation or a deferred probation.
Having a criminal defense attorney on your side who is familiar with the court system will help your changes of getting your probation terminated early. In the Houston area, the first step should usually be having the attorney stop by the court and talk to the representative from the probation department to attempt to verify whether all of the requirements of probation have been completed and what the judge’s policy is regarding early termination. In Harris County and surrounding counites, most judges treat an early termination as a carrot to incentivize defendants to take their probation responsibilities seriously, so early termination is an option in most cases.
Once a defendant’s compliance with probation has been verified, then it is a good idea to ask the prosecutor’s position. Again, in the Houston area, it is rare that a prosecutor objects to an early termination of a defendant after at least half of the probation has been completed, and compliance has been verified. Once the prosecutor is on board, it is sometimes possible to informally ask a judge about his or her position before filing a formal motion. After everyone is on board, then a formal motion should be filed stating how long the probation was for, how much has been completed, and whether the requirements have been completed. Once the judge signs the order then you are no longer on probation! That means you don’t have to pay a monthly supervision fee, make monthly probation visits, be subject to drug testing, or anything else.
Determining your eligibility for early termination of probation is best done by an experienced criminal defense attorney. As noted above, even if you are eligible, a criminal defense lawyer will be able to tell you whether this particular judge will consider the motion. Attorney Jose Ceja appears in courts all over the Greater Houston area on a daily basis and has successfully helped countless clients obtain an early termination of their probation. If you’d like to begin the process, call today for a free consultation.