Probation and Parole Violations in Texas

How are parole and probation different? What can someone do if they are liable of a parole or probation violation? 

Probation and parole are both alternatives to internment. Probation is a punishment as part of a sentence ordered by the court, to which instead of serving a jail term after conviction, the offender reports to a probation officer as per the set schedule. The offender is allowed to stay in the community on the promise of good/changed behaviour.

On the other hand, parole is the conditional release of a person from prison before the completion of your sentence term. When you are on parole, you are still under sentencing but serving it out of confinement. Any violation during parole can lead to you returning to jail. In both probation and parole, the party is supervised and is expected to follow certain guidelines.

Probation

When you are convicted of crime, Probation could almost always be part of your sentence. Conditions for probation may vary from case to case and between individuals. Probation can be in form of:

  • Fines – You are required to pay a probation fee to cover costs incurred by the probation department.

  • Restitution – This is cash that you(defendant) owe a victim. It is usually ordered by the court when the victim requires some form of compensation as a result of the crime committed.

  • Reporting to a probation officer – A probation officer is a person who works with persons who have been sentenced, supporting them, providing practical guidance, ensuring they attend appointments and group programmes among others. Probation officers are normally individuals who can cope up with stressful situations, are decisive, have integrity and with the ability to work in a team.

  • Counseling – It is the process of assisting and guiding the concerned party especially by a trained person on corrective behaviour. It is mostly done to persons who are put on probation for the first time.

  • Community service – It is a form of punishment intended to benefit the community that has been affected by the offender’s crime.

  • Jail time

  • Restrictions on alcohol, drugs and weapons – You are required to stay away from drugs, alcohols and weapons especially if they are the things that led you to commit crime.

Types of Probation

  1. Informal Probation

This is unsupervised court probation. It is usually assigned to low risk offenders. You are only required to pay your fines and fees and agree to be on the right side of the law for the entire probation period, i.e. a year to 18 months. Failure to pay fines or if at all you commit another crime, you are at risk of serving a jail term.

  1. Shock Probation

In shock probation, the judge sentences you to the maximum jail term allowable by law. After a short period, usually 30 days, you are called back to court and released to a standard supervised probation program. The brief stay in prison is meant to shock you literally so that you comply with the probation terms.

  1. Formal Probation

Also known as supervised probation. This type of probation is strict since it requires you to report to the probation officer on a regular basis. It may involve counseling, random drug or alcohol tests, restitution or even gainful employment. Failure to meet any of the set requirements could send you to jail almost immediately.

  1. Community Control

Community control probation is the most strict type of probation since the offender is monitored at all times. The offender is fitted with an ankle monitor for the entire period of probation tracking his whereabouts. It may also involve payment of fines, counseling, restitution or maintaining employment.

Probation Types in Texas

There are two main types of probation in texas namely:

  • Probated Sentence

Probated sentence is also known as a straight probation or suspended sentence. It can be granted as an aspect of the penalty imposed after a trial or conviction or as part of a plea deal. With a suspended sentence, you still have a conviction on your record, you are only avoiding serving a jail term.

This type of probation can be revoked, and if it does, the judge cannot order a period of internment greater than the term of suspended notice. This is of great importance because 1st degree felonies in Texas attract a punishment of 5 to 99 years.

Therefore, a person with straight probation of 10 years cannot be sentenced with a term of more than ten years, whereas a person with deferred adjudication probation could see 20 or more years prison sentence following the probation revocation.

  • Deferred Adjudication

Here, you are required to report to a probation officer for a set amount of time. It is mostly granted to first-time offenders. Its biggest throwback is that upon its revocation, you may be sentenced to any length of a term of internment irregardless of the deferred adjudication probation period. Usually 10 years as preferred by most prosecutors.

  • Pre-trial Diversion

This involves an agreement between the district attorney and the defendant. The eligibility requirements vary depending on the individual office. If you complete the diversion program successfully, your case is dismissed and you are eligible for expungement. At times, the pre-trial diversion requires you to plead guilty if the program is violated.

Probation is a court’s way of offering you a second chance, it could prove difficult administering it if the defendant appears to have no respect for the second chance that has been given. The consequences of violating probation must never be overlooked. Depending on the weight of the crime you have commited, probation length may vary. Drug and sex offenses have longer probation periods compared to other crimes in the United States, Texas.

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How to terminate your probation early.

  1. Consult an experienced defense attorney

With an experienced attorney, your probation term could be reduced. They will know when and how to file the necessary papers and that no important steps are skipped. An experienced defense attorney can help you file a request to terminate your probation early, make your case before the judge at your hearing, navigate the legal process and make a convincing argument as to the reason you should be released from probation early.

  1. Keep a clean record

Good behaviour attracts probation termination. This decision isn’t automatic but upon the discretion of the judge in your case. Your chances could be higher if you have a professional defense attorney that manages to convince the judge that you deserve your probation sentence terminated early. Staying out of trouble could be a plus for your case.

  1. Serve at least half of your probation term

Your request for early termination of your probation period may not be granted if you haven’t served at least half of your probation term. However, you can apply for early termination of probation at any time. No law requires you to serve a minimum percentage of your probation time.

  1. Court petition

You need to petition the court to review your case and grant you an early end to your probation. Your lawyer should help you make a formal request. You may be required to show some form of injustice you may suffer if your wish is not granted. With an experienced attorney, you’ve got nothing to worry about.

  1. The hearing

Once all the paperwork has been taken care of and a date has been set for your hearing, your attorney will help in arguing out the need for early termination for your probation. Depending on the crime convicted of, the judge will make a decision.

Parole

Being held in custody six months prior to receiving a 10-year sentence could make you eligible for parole in Texas. Your six months in custody is subtracted from your parole eligibility date. Eligibility for parole in Texas depends on the type of crime you have committed and the laws in place at the time of committing the offense.

Types of Parole

  1. Temporary absence

Minimum security offenders are eligible for this type of parole at any time during their sentence. Offenders serving 3 years or more become eligible after serving one sixth of their sentence. For persons whose sentences are two to three years, their eligibility is 6 months after their sentence.

If you are serving less than two years, eligibility is determined by a provincial jurisdiction. If you have been sentenced for life, your eligibility to the program is three years before your full parole eligibility date. Temporary absence parole is granted so that inmates can get medical attention or can be able to contact their family.

  1. Full parole

Offenders on full parole report regularly to their parole officer. It provides the offender an opportunity to serve a remainder of their sentence in the community. An offender becomes eligible for full parole after serving one third of their sentence or or 7 years, whichever is less.

The correctional service can suspend parole if you breach a condition or become unmanageable. The parole board may also terminate your parole if there is information or new information they could not have reasonably known at the time the parole was granted.

However exceptions are in place for a person serving life sentence for murder and for one serving interdeterminate sentences.

 

  1. Day parole

Allows you to engage with the community. You are required to return to a community -based facility to meet with your parole officer at the end of each day on a regular basis. Offenders serving sentences of two years or more become eligible six months prior to their parole eligibility kicking in.

Exceptions also exist for offenders serving life sentences and those serving indeterminate sentences.

Application for day parole must be submitted at least six months before the offender has served two thirds of their definite sentence. If you wish to withdraw an application, you must do so at least 15 days before the hearing day.

Statutory release

This is not parole. The decision of releasing an offender solely relies on the department of correctional services. Its purpose is to allow an offender to reintegrate into the community before the expiration of their sentence. Offenders serving life sentences do not get statutory release.

Suspension or revocation of parole or statutory release may occur if there is a breach in conditions that were put in place. If you receive an additional sentence other than the one being served while on parole, parole and statutory release is revoked when you are sentenced.

Parole Types in Texas

  1. Quarterly reporting

In Texas, this type of parole allows you to meet with your parole officer every 90 days. You can be eligible for early release upon getting a recommendation from the parole officer handling your case.

  1. Super intensive supervision program

This program is reserved mostly for violent assaultive offenders. It involves mandatory monitoring with full compliance with 24-hour pre-written schedules approved by the offender’s parole officer.

  1. Mandatory supervision

In this type of parole, you are released from prison to supervision provided by law enforcement for a restricted category of offenders. It is reserved for offenders whose time served added onto their good credit equals the amount of time they were sentenced.

There are 3 types of mandatory supervision in texas. They are minimum, medium and maximum.

With minimum, you must meet your parole officer at least once a month. Medium mandatory supervision allows the parole officer to make contact with the offender’s collateral as needed. The parole officer also makes contact with the offender at the parole’s officer address on a monthly basis.

Maximum mandatory supervision is similar to medium, however, it is reserved for offenders serving a maximum amount of time in the community minus the time they served in prison.

Probation and parole are two legal terms often confused. Even though they share some similarities, they are definitely not the same. The key difference between probation and parole is that probation is part of the offender’s initial sentence while parole comes much later. Parole is granting the offender early release from prison. They are both designed to rehabilitate and allow you to serve your sentence in society.

Hire a professional defense attorney and you will have nothing to worry about on the hearing outcomes of probation or parole violations in Texas.

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