You get probation for committing a crime. Let’s say it’s a drug offense.
A year later, you’ve been doing a really good job staying clean. Then, you just can’t stand it anymore and you get high.
You try to cover up your tracks. But, you mess up. Your Probation Officer catches you. Now you are faced with fighting to keep from getting your probation revoked. What now?
What Happens After a Probation Violation?
If you confess a violation of your probation to your PO, or if they suspect you’ve violated your probation, they immediately submit a notification to the judge. The court probation officer will prepare either a “Motion to Revoke Probation,” if you’re on regular probation, or a “Motion to Adjudicate” if you’re on deferred adjudication that is signed off on by the State prosecutor.
Regardless of the name, it’s a Motion asking the court to take away your probation and put you in jail because you violated the probation conditions. It outlines how they say you’ve violated your probation. You have the right to fight the allegations at a hearing in front of the judge.
The judge is usually going to issue a warrant for your arrest based on the Motion. You go to jail and you get a court date to discuss what happens next.
You’ll have to sit in jail until your court date or post bond if you can afford it. (more on that below) On your court date, the prosecutor and your defense attorney try to work out an agreement about what should happen for your violation if possible. If you want a hearing on the motion in front of the judge or if no agreement can be reached then the lawyers present arguments and the judge decides. There is no jury.
The possible outcomes can include reinstatement of your probation, a modification of conditions of probation and then reinstatement or revocation and jail time.
How do Bonds Work in This Case?
In regard to bond, you have to first know that bonds work differently for regular probation and deferred adjudication.
For regular probation, the law does not entitle you to bond. But the judges usually (but not always) set one unless they really don’t want you released at all. If you are on a deferred adjudication probation, the law requires that the judge set a bond amount. However, it can be set very high so as to make it financially difficult for you to afford. Paying a bondsman to get you out of jail can help with the cost but it is often still expensive.
Additionally, the other bad news in the case of probation violation, is that the state has a much lower burden of proof. Rather than being required to prove you “guilty beyond a reasonable doubt” (like they would in a criminal trial) the state of Texas simply has to show you violated your probation via a “preponderance of the evidence.” In plain English, that means it’s more likely than not you committed the actions you’re accused of.
So, it’s a much easier burden of proof. There are also many nuances here that can vary, depending on the judge presiding over your case. Some judges are nicer and more lenient than others.
The advantage of having someone knowledgeable about the local judges and their tendencies and opinions about probation violations plus the lower burden of proof in probation violation situations, are two good reasons why you should hire the best criminal defense attorney you can get.