In most cases, probation is an excellent sentencing option. As long as your job offers some flexibility in terms of lunch hours and whatever, your boss may not ever know that you are on probation.
However, probation is not for everyone. As outlined below, there are a number of conditions. Technically, one violation of one condition could result in a motion to revoke. To my knowledge, there are no Tarrant or Parker County courts that have that quick of a trigger finger. But there are several who have very little patience in this area. Especially if you are in one of these courts, probation is a big decision.
These general conditions are in the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure. Exact conditions usually vary, so it’s important to go over them with your attorney.
No Other Offenses
This category is not limited to arrests. Any offense, including a speeding ticket, goes under this label. Parking tickets are probably not reportable, as they are offenses against the city. Your probation officer will find out about any arrests or charges very quickly, so there is no use trying to hide them. The more upfront you are, the better the outcome will be. If the offense is a serious one or closely related to the original offense, you and your attorney need to start working together straightaway, because the probation officer will almost certainly kick the case back to the prosecutor.
No Injurious Habits
This prohibition usually applies to drinking alcohol and using most illegal drugs. Tobacco and marijuana are in something of a grey area. Some probation officers consider these things injurious and others do not. Additionally, probation officers almost always require drug tests. So, if you are using prohibited substances, your probation supervisor will know about it.
Avoid Disreputable Persons or Places
Many people are tempted to lie to their probation officer with regard to this requirement. After all, they figure, the probation department does not have me under surveillance, so how would they know? That approach often works for a while, but then there’s an incident involving that person and that place, and your name comes up. Then, the probation officer is somewhat angry because you violated the condition, and really angry because you lied.
Most all the Tarrant or Parker County motions to revoke probation cite failure to report. This sin is also unpardonable in the eyes of Tarrant or Parker County judges. Typically, the reporting requirement begins with bimonthly meetings and then goes to monthly meetings. If keeping these appointments will be a problem, for whatever reason, probation may not be a good idea.
Other important conditions include consent to unannounced visits and the submission of W-2s, school records, and other paperwork.
Probation is not just a free ticket out of jail. For a free consultation with an experienced criminal defense attorney in Fort Worth, contact Herreth Law. I am a former prosecutor and I now fight for you.