Especially in felony cases, community supervision can be quite burdensome. The period of probation may be several years. During this time, there are travel restrictions and reporting requirements. There is also the constant threat of probation revocation.
Texas Code of Criminal Procedure Article 42A.701 may offer a way out. Once the defendant completes a third of the probation period and meets other requirements, the defendant may be eligible for early discharge. These defendants might also be eligible for judicial clemency, which is almost as good as record sealing.
Technically, the defendant must complete one-third of the probation or two years, whichever is less. Additionally, the defendant must essentially complete all probationary requirements in advance. That includes:
· Full payment of all fines, court expenses, restitution, and other costs (except probation supervision fees),
· Completion of all court-ordered counselling or other requirements, and
· No conviction for a disqualifying offense.
DWIs are not eligible for early discharge. Neither are most sex offenses or violent felonies (e.g. burglary and robbery).
One obvious effect is that the defendant will no longer be under court supervision. That means no more monthly check-ins or other conditions apply.
Furthermore, successful petitioners may be eligible for judicial clemency. The judge allows the defendant to withdraw his/her guilty plea. The judge then sets aside the conviction and dismisses the case.
However, this dismissal does not have the same effect as it does in other situations. The conviction may still be used against the defendant in certain judicial and non-judicial areas. If your case originated before September 1, 2015, a back door to record sealing, or even expunction, may be available. But the law changed in 2015, so this option may no longer be available.
Nevertheless, if you are eligible, early discharge from probation is definitely worth pursuing. All defendants are released from court supervision. Furthermore, if the judge grants a clemency petition, it may be easier to do everyday things like get a good job or find a nice place to live. Judicial clemency may also restore your right to own a gun.
You must act quickly in these cases. Some courts enforce a thirty-day cutoff between an early discharge petition and a clemency petition. So, if the judge releases you from probation early, you may only have a few weeks to file a clemency petition. After that, you may lose your right to pursue this option.
Early discharge from probation has a number of benefits. For a free consultation with an experienced criminal defense attorney in Weatherford, contact Herreth Law. We routinely handle cases in Tarrant County and nearby jurisdictions.