At any given time, approximately one out of every forty-three Texans is on probation for something. That’s significantly more folks than the nationwide average of one in every fifty-five people.
The vast majority of these people voluntarily agreed to probation as part of a plea bargain agreement. These agreements usually involve lesser sentences or reduced charges.
Probationers must strictly adhere to a number of conditions. If they fail to do so, they could face probation revocation and possible jail or prison time. Fortunately, a Fort Worth criminal defense attorney has a number of options at this point.
Conditions of Probation
Committing no further offenses against the state is probably the most important condition of probation. If the state files a motion to revoke, it’s almost always because of a new offense.
These motions are difficult to defend, mostly because the prosecutor’s burden of proof is only a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not). That’s much lower than the general criminal court standard (beyond a reasonable doubt). More on defenses below.
Most probationers must also follow a number of technical rules. Conditions vary by case and jurisdiction, but they normally include:
Reporting regularly to a probation officer,
Paying all required fines and fees,
Staying in school or keeping a full-time job, and
Avoiding “disreputable” habits, such as alcohol and drug use.
Technically, it is okay to smoke or use tobacco while on probation. But it’s a good idea to reduce consumption. It is even a better idea to abstain altogether in the day or two prior to an appointment with a probation officer.
Finally, many probationers must abide by offense-specific conditions. Some assault cases contain no-contact orders and most DWI probations require Ignition Interlock Devices.
Probation Revocation Hearings
As mentioned, if a defendant violates probation, only limited defenses are available. Procedural defenses may work very well.
Lack of due diligence in serving the warrant may be the biggest procedural defense. WHen authorities issue probation revocation warrants, they almost never try to serve them. Instead, they wait for the defendant to run afoul of the law, perhaps because of an expired registration sticker or another traffic violation. Then, officers serve the warrant when it pops up on the computer.
Other procedural defenses are available as well. For example, if the defendant is charged with not paying fees, the moton is arguably illegal. Debtors’ prisons are not legal in the United States.
Plea bargains resolve most probation revocation matters. This plea agreement often includes a brief jail sentence, perhaps a week, as a condition of reinstatement. Alternatively, the judge may extend probation or make the conditions tougher.
Skilled attorneys can keep defendants out of jail when they violate probation. For a free consultation with an experienced criminal defense attorney in Fort Worth, contact Herreth Law. Convenient payment plans are available.