Probation (also known as community service) is a useful tool to allow defendants the opportunity to reform and contribute to their communities, rather than being incarcerated. However, when a defendant is facing probation violation charges, including a deferred adjudication probation, the consequences can be harsh. If the State of Texas has filed a motion to revoke your probation, or a motion to adjudicate (if you are completing a deferred adjudication probation), you need the assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side. Former prosecutor Jose Ceja of Ceja Law Firm uses his skill and knowledge of the law to protect clients’ rights throughout the Houston area.
Probation is an alternative to serving a sentence in prison. Probation usually includes many terms or rules that must be strictly followed for the term of the criminal sentence. Probation terms include:
- Restrictions on leaving the state or county
- Performing community service
- Attending regular meetings or check-ins with a probation officer
- Being subject to random drug or alcohol testing
- Completing alcohol or drug treatment programs
- Paying restitution and/or court costs
- Avoiding any further run-ins with the law or getting arrested again
The length of the probation varies with each case, most often depending on the severity of the crime committed. Probation terms for misdemeanors may be up to two years, while terms for felonies can extend to ten years.
As noted, in Texas, there are two forms of probation. The first is “regular” probation, which means that a conviction will appear on a defendant’s record and a defendant will receive a jail or prison sentence that is “probated” (i.e., suspended) while the defendant completes the terms of probation. The second type is a deferred adjudication. For many defendants, this type of probation can be more attractive since successful completion of deferred adjudication will usually not leave a final conviction on a defendant’s record and many convictions can be sealed. However, the downside to a deferred adjudication is that the punishment can be more severe than having probation revoked while completing a regular probation.
What Is a Probation Violation?
A probation violation occurs when someone fails to comply with the terms of his or her probation. This can range from failing to attend a drug or alcohol rehabilitation course to crossing county lines without a probation officer’s permission.
If a prosecutor or law enforcement is alerted of a possible probation violation, the prosecutor will file a motion to revoke or motion adjudicate probation with the criminal court. This type of motion requests the court to revoke or reconsider the grant of probation instead of prison time. On the filing of a motion to adjudicate probation, the court will issue an arrest warrant for the suspected violator and schedule a court hearing to consider the probation violation.
When the court orders the arrest of a person suspected of violating the terms of probation, the court schedules a revocation hearing to consider whether a violation occurred and whether the court should revoke probation. At the revocation hearing, the prosecution bears the burden of proving the suspected violator actually violated the terms of his or her probation. The prosecutor must show by the preponderance of the evidence that the accused violated probation. This means the prosecution’s case must show more likely than not; a probation violation occurred.
The prosecution attempts to establish probation violations through evidence such as witness testimony. The accused has an opportunity to cross-examine the prosecution’s witnesses and may also present evidence to rebut the allegations of a probation violation.
Possible Outcomes of a Revocation Hearing After a Probation Violation Charge
After considering all the evidence, the criminal court may find the accused either did or did not violate the terms of probation. If the court determines the accused violated the terms of his or her probation, the court may either revoke probation and send the accused to jail or prison or release the accused but modify the terms of the probation. Stricter terms may include fewer freedoms, more frequent check-ins with a probation officer, or an extended probation term.
If the court finds the accused did not violate the terms of probation, the accused is free to go, and the originally set probation resumes, subject to all of the same terms.
Contact a Houston Area Criminal Defense Attorney
Probation is a useful tool to prevent incarceration for many types of criminal acts. Although probation terms and conditions may seem difficult, they are often better than the alternative of prison. If you are accused of violating your probation terms, you need legal representation to protect your rights. Attorney Jose Ceja of Ceja Law Firm knows the law and works tirelessly to represent the interests of all his clients. Contact Ceja Law Firm to discuss how we can help you.