Probation, or community supervision, is usually a good alternative to incarceration. However, it is certainly not a perfect alternative.
Direct costs, such as probation fees, add up over time. Additionally, it is difficult to continually adhere to restrictive conditions, like remaining in the county and abstaining from alcohol. Making matters worse, many judges often add other restrictive conditions, such as consent to warrantless searches.
There are indirect costs as well. Many employers are understanding when it comes to time off requests for probation meetings. Other employers, however, are not so understanding. Moreover, the constant strain of court supervision wears on many people.
For these reasons, an early discharge from probation may be a good idea. And, a good Weatherford criminal defense attorney can make it happen.
Benefits of Early Discharge
Escaping the thumb of court supervision is not the only benefit of early discharge from probation. In many cases, judges also grant judicial clemency. Generally, clemency is a separate proceeding from early discharge, even if the early discharge order contains such language.
Judicial clemency is not exactly like expungement, but it is close. The judge allows the defendant to withdraw the guilty or no contest pleas. Then, the judge sets aside the conviction. That conviction may still be used against the defendant in some situations, such as future criminal cases or license applications.
However, judicial clemency does effectively seal the criminal record. Future landlords, employers, and other private entities will not know anything about the conviction. As outlined below, early discharge/judicial clemency is unavailable in certain situations. But it is much easier to obtain than record sealing.
Qualifying for Early Discharge
The Texas Code of Criminal Procedure establishes the minimum qualifications for early probation termination. These requirements are:
Complete at least a third of the term,
Pay all fines, costs, restitution, and fees,
Complete all probation requirements, like self-improvement classes, and
Satisfactorily complete all terms of probation.
Note that the requirement is satisfactory completion and not perfect completion. The judge might overlook a blemish here or there, such as a missed meeting.
Additionally, the defendant must not have been convicted of a prohibited offense. Murder, aggarvated kidnapping, DWI, and many sexual offenses are on the prohibited list.
Different rules apply to deferred adjudication. The judge has almost unlimited discretion to grant or deny petitions for early discharge. Additionally, if the judge allows discharge, the judge normally seals the records.
After the judge’s gavel falls, additional relief may be available. For a free consultation with an experienced criminal defense attorney in Weatherford, contact Herreth Law. We routinely handle matters in Parker County and nearby jurisdictions.