In Texas, probation and community supervision are forms of court-ordered supervision that allow people to avoid spending time in jail, prison, or house arrest. Probation enables offenders to remain living and working in the community, giving them the ability to support their families and pay restitution to the victims. The terms “probation” and “community supervision” refer to the same thing in Texas.

Austin Probation Lawyer | Travis County, TX

Oftentimes, when a person is arrested and charged with a criminal offense, they don’t serve jail time, nor are they convicted, but are instead allowed to take advantage of the Travis County Adult Probation program. Texas & Travis County courts understand that everyone is capable of making a mistake and provides an opportunity for most offenders to get a second chance.

If you are pursuing probation, it is best to seek the assistance of a qualified criminal defense attorney. Jackson F. Gorski at The Law Office of Jackson F. Gorski can help you navigate the process. To schedule a consultation with attorney Gorski, call 512-960-4646 today to schedule a consultation today.

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How Probation Works In Texas

Probation releases criminal defendants back to society before their full criminal sentence has been served. Instead of being locked up, criminal defendants serve their sentence in the community, provided that they follow a series of court-ordered requirements. Judges can reduce prison overcrowding by refusing to imprison a convicted defendant. In addition, probationers can provide for their families by serving their sentences outside of jail.

Probation is still a type of supervision. While staff members working in prison oversee individuals in prison, criminal defendants on probation are supervised by probation officers. People are under observation as they fulfill the requirements of their probation. These probationary conditions demonstrate that the probationer is improving. Texas probation requirements tend to be quite strict.

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When Probation Is Not An Option

Probation will not be offered to a criminal defendant if they are sentenced to serve at least ten years. Juries can adjudicate most crimes, but judges have restrictions on what crimes they can and cannot adjudicate. Code of Criminal Procedure 42.12 Section 3g specifies which crimes cannot be probated. In Texas, these criminal offenses are referred to as “3g offenses.” 3G Offenses include:

  • Aggravated sexual assault;
  • Aggravated kidnapping;
  • Aggravated robbery;
  • Burglary;
  • Capital murder;
  • Compelling prostitution;
  • Certain criminal solicitation cases;
  • Drug cases involving a child or school;
  • Murder;
  • Sexual assault;
  • Sexual performance by a child;
  • Injury to a child, disabled or elderly individual; and
  • Human trafficking

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Deferred Adjudication

A special type of probation called “deferred adjudication” gives defendants a chance to keep a conviction off their criminal record. A judge may decide to place the individual on deferred adjudication probation instead of finding them guilty after entering a “guilty” or “no contest” plea. Only a judge can probate a sentence to a deferred adjudication.

Deferred adjudication could keep someone out of jail or prison if they were charged with a felony. The typical sentence for felony probation is ten years. After the criminal defendant successfully completes the terms of probation, their case will be dismissed, and they won’t have a conviction for the crime on their criminal record.

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Parole Versus Probation

In Texas, parole is distinct from probation. Instead of being in jail, probation involves community-based supervision. After serving a portion of your sentence in jail or prison, a criminal defendant may be granted parole through community supervision.

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Probation Fees

Probation costs mandated by the court include:

  • Court-related costs, fees, and fines;
  • Probation fees;
  • Court-appointed attorney fees; and
  • Restitution payments

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Felony Probation Rules

Several conditions, such as the particular defendant, conviction, and even sentencing judge, can affect probation rules. Some typical felony probation requirements in Texas for defendants include:

  • Continually and punctually show up for regularly scheduled meetings with probation officers. These meetings typically occur once a month, but a judge may order a different probation meeting schedule;
  • Maintain employment with a reliable job in a lawful profession;
  • Avoid alcohol, drugs, and other controlled substances;
  • Stay away from criminals;
  • Allow probation officers to conduct unscheduled visits in their homes or on the job;
  • Consent to random searches by probation officers;
  • Complete community service requirements;
  • Submit to all required drug tests;
  • Request approval before moving or changing jobs; and
  • Request approval before traveling out of Texas.

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Special Conditions Of Probation

As long as it complies with Texas probation laws, Texas criminal court judges are free to impose unique conditions on a probation sentence. These unique probation conditions in Texas depend on a variety of other case-specific elements. Some examples of special conditions include drug offender programs, victim impact programs, life skills classes, and ignition interlock device installation.

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Violating Probation

Individuals must adhere to the terms and conditions of their probation. Anyone on probation who fails to follow the probation conditions will risk facing severe repercussions. Some typical probation violations include failing a drug test, getting arrested for a crime, and failing to complete court-ordered substance abuse treatment.

Even if someone violates probation for the first time or for a minor reason, a probation officer can send a report to the court that prompts them to issue an arrest warrant. What happens after a violation varies greatly depending on the violation and the reason the individual is on probation.

A judge may order a probationer to pay fines and serve jail time if they violate their probation. Depending on the nature and seriousness of the alleged violation, they may face specific punishments for breaking the terms of probation.

Probationers may receive a warning if the violation is minor. The probation officer can use their discretion for minor violations.

However, the probationer may be ordered to appear in court for more serious violations. During the court appearance, the judge can decide whether to change the terms, extend probation, or revoke probation. If probation is revoked, the probationer would need to complete the jail sentence they avoided while on probation. Depending on the crime, the violation itself can result in additional jail time.

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Ending Probation Early

In some cases, individuals can end probation early. To be eligible, the probationer must have completed at least one-third of their probation. For example, if the probation was longer than six years, at least two years must be completed. They must also adhere to all the probationary requirements, including paying any fines, completing any required coursework, being under community supervision, and anything else specified.

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Additional Resources

Texas Judicial Branch: Probation –  Access the PDF provided which explains deferred adjudication probation and who is eligible.

Texas Statutes: Probation – Access the official website for the Texas Statutes. You can read chapter 42 which covers probation and community supervision laws.

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Georgetown Probation Attorney | Williamson County, TX

Whether you’ve been accused of a criminal offense and hope to take advantage of the Travis County Adult Probation program or if you’re facing the revocation of your probation, Austin criminal defense lawyer Jackson F. Gorski is ready to hear from you and is prepared to help you.

The Law Offices of Jackson F. Gorski has offices in Austin and Georgetown, TX. Call 512-960-4646 to arrange a free consultation with attorney Gorski.

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