What’s the Difference Between Regular and Deferred Probation?

Posted on: January 18th, 2016 by webmaster No Comments

When you hear the words “deferred adjudication probation,” your ears should immediately perk up.

In simple layman’s terms, it means you get a second chance to avoid a final conviction, provided you comply with the terms of the probation.

Literally, instead of finding you guilty when you begin your probation, the judge “defers,” or puts off, a finding of guilt to see if you choose to change your ways and comply with your probationary requirements.

It’s something an attorney can argue for in the case of a client who is a first-time offender for example. And if you make it through your probationary period and stay within its guidelines, the case goes on your public record as basically a dismissal, rather than a conviction. You are never convicted of the charges.

Also, and this is a big deal, after successful completion of a deferred probation you may be eligible to have the records of the probation sealed by filing what is called a “Petition for Nondisclosure.” If granted, the case will only show up on a law enforcement background search.

So, for example, a future employer would not see it if they ran a simple civilian level background check.  An attorney can advise you on whether or not you are eligible for this depending on the specific charges you face and whether there are waiting periods associated as to when you can file it.

There are a few types of charges, such as DWIs, in which the law does not allow deferred probation as an option.

How is Regular Probation different than Deferred?

Regular probation means the judge finds you guilty of your charges. You are legally convicted of the crime and sentenced to a term of imprisonment. However, instead of imposing a jail sentence against you at that time the judge places you on probation and orders you to comply with probation conditions.

The big problem for you in the future is that conviction.  It can never be removed.

The conditions of probation are often similar whether the probation is regular or deferred.

What are the Potential Consequences of a Conviction?

Even after successfully completing a regular probation, you’ll still have a criminal charge conviction on your public record. Beyond that your public reputation could be damaged, perhaps permanently and irreparably. You could lose your professional license. You could lose your job. You could have a difficult, nearly impossible time, finding similar employment in the future. You may have a hard time getting into the college you want. You may have difficulty getting student loans, grants, or scholarships.

You’ll have to think carefully about what a criminal conviction on your record could mean in your life.

Other Major Differences

So those are the main differences. A couple others you’ll want to note:

• Judges are more likely to terminate your deferred probation early after you have completed your classes, community service and paid off your fines and fees. You must first complete the lesser of two years or 1/3 of your probation first.

• If you violate your regular probation, you can be required to serve the original sentence. However, if you violate your deferred probation, you may be required to serve any length of your sentence that law allows. And that could include the maximum sentence.

• Also, you can’t get regular probation for many types of offenses. This generally includes more serious offenses like capital murder and aggravated charges. Deferred probation is simply unavailable for DWI cases.

Deferred Probation Can Be a Big Nightmare Too

Your probationary period can last for several years. And if you get in any sort of criminal trouble during that time, even if the activity is far different and lesser in severity than your original charges, you can possibly face the maximum sentence for your original charges anyway.

You can lose your rights to a trial by jury, or to appeal your sentence. And a judge alone has the discretion as to what your sentence should be.

As always, you’re smart to talk to a criminal defense attorney whenever you face any criminal charges. They offer free consultations, so you can get a sound legal opinion on what a fair outcome should be for your actions, and what choices you should make to get that.

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Can You Be Prosecuted in State & Federal Court for Same Crime?

Posted on: January 1st, 2016 by webmaster No Comments

Say you decide to smuggle drugs across state lines. You’re caught in the process.

Can the State of Texas and federal government both put you on their own trial and give you separate sentences?

Doesn’t seem fair at first does it? After all, you only committed one crime. So why should you have to pay for it twice?

How Double Jeopardy Works

You’re probably familiar with the idea that you can’t be charged twice for the same crime. The law actually originally comes from ancient Greece. And today, our Fifth Amendment protects you from being repeatedly prosecuted for the same crime.

However, when multiple jurisdictions get involved, double jeopardy no longer protects you. Instead, you are viewed as having committed separate offenses. “Dual sovereignty” gives both state and federal government the power to prosecute you for the same crime.

So let’s go back to the example of you smuggling drugs across state lines. Technically, you could be prosecuted in all states whose laws you violated, and also by the federal government because you crossed state lines. However, a state prosecutor may choose to cede (“give up”) their jurisdiction when multiple states are involved.

But you could still face charges by both the federal and at least one state government. As recently as last year a Federal appeals court has ruled on this issue.

Case Example: Roberto Miramontes Roman

Roman, a Mexican citizen, was charged with the murder of Josie Greathouse Fox by the State of Utah in 2012. He initially confessed to the charges, but later recanted.

Fox was following Roman and another man for hours on suspicion of drug trafficking. After Fox pulled them over, she was shot by either Roman or his accomplice immediately after exiting her vehicle.

The Utah jury found enough reasonable doubt to acquit Roman of the murder charges.

However, since federal law enforcement was attempting to arrest Roman for felony drug violates, they also claimed jurisdiction. Roman’s defense attorney argued the dual sovereignty exception should be eliminated. The US attorney prosecuting the case said the federal prosecution does not amount to double jeopardy.

Ultimately, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals decided in June of 2015 that Roman’s charges do not amount to double jeopardy. And therefore, the charges will stand and proceed. The US attorney then added on charges of killing a law enforcement officer while fleeing apprehension.

Accused of a State and Federal Crime? You Might Do Double Time

Whether you think being charged twice for the same crime by different authorities is fair or not, it’s the way law works in the United States now.

If you face charges for both a state and federal crime, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney with a proven track record of success on your side.

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What Does It Mean to Serve Aggravated Time in Texas?

Posted on: December 22nd, 2015 by webmaster No Comments

Did you know that in Texas, you can be charged and convicted of assault without even touching someone, or even just slightly touching them?

If you tell someone you are going to beat them up, and they have a reasonable fear you’re going to do it, or if you simply poke them in the chest with your finger after a heated discussion, you can be charged with assault.

Texas criminal law says:

“If you intentionally or knowingly threaten someone else, including your spouse, with imminent bodily injury,” or “intentionally or knowingly cause physical contact with another when the person knows or should reasonably believe that the other will regard the contact as offensive or provocative,” you can be convicted of assault.

A simple assault, like either of the above situations can result in a Class A misdemeanor. That could land you in county jail for up to a year and get you a fine up to $4,000.

Prison Time and Fines Increase Dramatically When You Commit “Aggravated Assault”

If you are found guilty of aggravated assault, you will be guilty of a first or possibly a second degree felony in Texas.

A second-degree felony puts you in prison 2-20 years and hits you with a fine up to $10,000. A first-degree felony gives you 5-99 years and also has up to a $10,000 fine.

To be guilty of aggravated assault, one of two things must be true:

• You caused “serious bodily injury” to the person you assaulted

• You used a “deadly weapon” as you committed the assault

Aggravated Assault is a “3g” offense. “3g” refers to the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure 42.12, subsection 3g.

That section of the criminal code enhances punishments for certain crimes. For assaults, including aggravated sexual assault, aggravated kidnapping, and aggravated robbery (as well as many other serious crimes), you can experience the following additional consequences:

• You cannot get regular probation from the judge as part of a plea bargain

• You must also serve half of your sentence, or 30 years, whichever is less

• You also cannot be eligible for parole in less than 2 years

• Good conduct time cannot be factored in – you must serve the lesser of half your sentence or 30 years

Compare this to the sentence you can get when you are convicted of a non-3G or non-aggravated offense:

• You are potentially eligible for parole when your time served plus good conduct equals 1/4 of your sentence

Keeping It Simple: An “Aggravated Crime” Is More Serious and Has Stiffer Penalties

If you hear the word “aggravated” being used, know that your situation is serious. You could spend decades, perhaps the rest of your life, in prison.

If you face these charges, don’t talk with police – and get in touch with a skilled criminal defense attorney immediately.

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How Does Registering as a Sex Offender Impact Your Life?

Posted on: December 10th, 2015 by webmaster No Comments

So you’ve hit rock bottom. You’ve been charged with a sex crime.

Your personal reputation is ruined. Friends and family members no longer speak to you.

And now you may have to register with the State of Texas as a “Sex Offender.”

What does that mean? How does that impact your daily life?

Some of it depends on the nature of your crime.

But here’s what you can generally expect:

1. To start, you must give your city or county law enforcement your name, address, a color photo of yourself, and the crime you were convicted of (plus the age of the victim, date of conviction, and the punishment for the crime). You must also give your Social Security number, driver’s license number, fingerprints, and shoe size (not a joke).

Falsifying any of this information can result in an instant felony charge.

2. You must periodically report to local law enforcement to verify the accuracy of this information, and to report any changes. This is typically yearly, but may be every 90 days if you have 2 convictions of a violent offense. If you are civilly committed as a sexually violent predator, you must do this every 30 days.

3. You must also give extensive professional information. For example, you must provide every business, occupational, and professional license or certificate you have or are trying to get. Conviction of a sex crime may prevent you from getting some of these licenses.

4. You also have to tell authorities if you are employed, or if you will be a student. You must provide the name and address of the institution. You also have to notify campus security of your status as a sex offender.

5. The information you report then gets provided by local authorities to the Department of Public Safety to be published in the publicly accessible DPS’ Sex Offender Database.

6. If you are under probation supervision, you will have restrictions keeping you certain distances from schools, parks, and any places children gather. These can change, depending on the nature of your crime.

7. If you are a “high-risk” sex offender (Level 3), one deemed likely to re-offend, Texas DPS will mail post-cards to the community you move to.

8. If you were convicted after September 1, 1995 and your victim was under 17, local residents will be notified in the newspaper.

How Long Do You Have to Register as a Sex Offender?

This depends on the nature of your conviction. In many cases you must remain a registered sex offender for the rest of your life. For some other cases sex offenders stay on the registry for 10 years, assuming no additional offenses.

There is a possibility under current Texas law of removing the registration requirement that has been placed on you if you meet the requirements.  Contact a criminal defense attorney to learn more about this.

Practical Implications of Being a Registered Sex Offender

Those were just the legal consequences of being a registered a sex offender. Then there’s a number of practical personal consequences that may happen too:

• Divorce

• Your children won’t talk to you

• No one in the community speaks to you

• Difficulty getting a job

• Living in shame, guilt, and remorse

• Unable to get the professional license you want

• Financial consequences that result from all this

Basically, you can lose everything important in your life with a mere charge of a sex crime.  To try to avoid some of these serious consequences, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney before your conviction.

That’s why it’s important to have a skilled criminal defense attorney on your side.

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What To Do if the FBI Contacts You

Posted on: October 27th, 2015 by webmaster No Comments

What To Do If The FBI Contacts You

So you get a strange phone call. You can tell by the serious tone of the voice on the other end that something not good’s going on.

Or a couple of official-looking people ring your doorbell and want to talk to you. Again, you can tell by the way they dress, this is going to be trouble.

In both cases, your suspicions are confirmed and you find out it’s the FBI.

What do you do when this happens?

Follow these tips, and you’ll be just fine:

Stay Calm And Remember Law Only Requires You Give Your Name and Address

If FBI agents have a reasonable suspicion you have committed a crime, or are about to commit one (but have no warrant), you are only legally required to provide them with identification, which can be done by verbally telling them or simply showing an official ID card of some sort.

Federal law does not require you to answer any other questions.

Remember, FBI agents are trained investigators. So they know how to persuade you by making you feel scared, impolite, or guilty.

You might feel any of those feelings intensely. But you’re not required to speak to the FBI in any way. And you don’t have to talk to them even if they do have an arrest or search warrant.

However, you do have to comply with their arrest or search efforts if they do have a warrant.

And remember, the minute they contact you, you can contact a criminal defense lawyer for advice at any time.

The law cannot see this as you refusing to cooperate. It is your legal right.

What if FBI Agents Say They Have a Search Warrant?

Ask to see it first. They have to show you the warrant to make it a legal search. If they can’t show you the warrant, refuse to let them in.

If they force their way in anyway, allow them in without resistance. That’s for your own safety and to avoid the possibility that they will attempt to find a separate charge for resisting arrest.

And remember, a search warrant in no way requires you to answer any of their questions. Stay silent as they search.

As they search, observe what they do, and take mental and written notes. Call your criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. I have gotten calls from individuals while the authorities were still at their home.

If You Don’t Cooperate, Doesn’t that Make You Look Guilty?

In the perception of common people, yes. But the law works much differently than the understanding of the common person.

You might be tempted to talk to the FBI because you know you’re innocent and an honest person. But, even if you unwittingly or out of fear or forgetfulness give two inconsistent statements, you could be charged with making false statements to the FBI. And you don’t even want to do something “small,” like telling the FBI you don’t know the location of a family member when in fact you do.

Follow these tips to perfection to avoid any unnecessary or stressful legal consequences.

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The Difference Between Reasonable Suspicion and Probable Cause

Posted on: October 5th, 2015 by webmaster No Comments

Reasonable Suspicion VS Probable Cause

Ahh “legalese.”

If you’re like most, you have a hard time understanding legal language.

No worries – I’ve got you covered.

What’s the difference when federal investigators or police say they have “reasonable suspicion” or “probable cause?”

Briefly, both help law enforcement decide when they should make an arrest. With probable cause, there’s concrete evidence of a crime. With reasonable suspicion, it only appears a crime may been committed. So investigators with reasonable suspicion use the term to justify further investigation when they observe suspicious behavior.

Why Do We Have Probable Cause and Reasonable Suspicion?

Our Constitution’s 4th Amendment protects you the citizen from “unreasonable searches and seizures.” And to get that warrant, they must have “probable cause.”

Prior to our Constitution, British officials could basically search the American colonists for whatever they wanted whenever they wanted. It forces law officials to have a search warrant. If you looked suspicious, or if they simply didn’t like you, they could ransack your entire home. So that’s where this whole idea of probable cause comes from.

Reasonable suspicion is a little more recent, stemming from a 1968 Supreme Court case. The ruling was law enforcement has a right to stop and briefly detain you if, based on their training and experience, there’s a good reason to think you’re engaging in criminal activity.

When Does Law Enforcement Need “Reasonable Suspicion” or “Probable Cause?”

It depends on what law enforcement’s goal is. If they want to stop and question you, they only need reasonable suspicion. They can search your body if they think you’re armed or if you present a threat of serious bodily harm.

If they decide to arrest you, or if they want to search you or obtain a search warrant, then they need “probable cause.”

One Example of Reasonable Suspicion and Probable Cause in Action

An example of reasonable suspicion is if you stumbled out of a bar and entered into your car. It’s possible you’re legally intoxicated, so if you try to drive away, a police officer who observed you enter the car might decide to approach you based on a reasonable suspicion of possible criminal activity.

He smells alcohol on your breath and notices you slur your speech. At this point, the officer now has probable cause to arrest you or conduct a further investigation.

Once probable cause kicks in, police don’t need to get a search warrant if time and circumstances dictate action is necessary. For example, it makes no sense for officers to let you drive home drunk while they go get a search or arrest warrant.

Typically you then get a field sobriety test, which, if you refuse to perform or fail when you attempt to perform, gets you arrested. By the way, you don’t have to agree to perform those tests (but that’s a whole different blog post).

Wrapping It All Up

There’s a small distinction between reasonable suspicion and probable cause, but there’s a higher burden of proof needed to justify “probable cause.”

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What are the Differences Between State & Federal Punishments?

Posted on: September 25th, 2015 by webmaster No Comments

federal-vs-state-punishments-for-crimes

Accused of a federal crime? Unfortunately, I don’t have good news for you. And the picture doesn’t get any better when you talk about punishments.

In Texas, the State takes great pride in laying down severe punishments for crime. Our State is much tougher than many others.

However, get convicted of doing the same thing at the federal level, and you’ll generally experience more severe consequences.

Here are the main differences between Texas and federal punishments:

  • 1. Federal Criminals Cannot Get Parole (and probation is rare)

    The Sentencing Reform Act of 1984 eliminated parole for all crimes committed after November 1, 1987. But there is some good news. You can get released early for “exemplary” behavior, which can be up to 54 days off per year sentenced.

    Parole at the Texas state level is complex, and works differently, depending on the crime. If you are convicted of a “3g” offense (an especially egregious or harmful offense), for example, you must serve 1/2 of your sentence before you’re eligible for parole. If you’re convicted of a non-3g offense, you must have “flat, good, or work” time credits equal to one-quarter of your sentence to be eligible for parole.

    But that only makes you eligible for parole. To actually get parole, you need to get approval from the parole board – an entirely different process of its own.

    Additionally, many crimes in State court are punished by placing the individual on probation where they serve no jail time as long as they comply with the conditions of probation.  It is much more difficult and rare for a crime in federal court to be so minor that the Federal Sentencing Guidelines calculate a sentence of probation.

  • 2. Federal Sentences are Not Mandatory…But They’re Still Tough

    The Sentencing Reform Act of 1984 addressed a concern of federal judges at the time: that sentences were too lenient and varied too much. So that law created a “Guidelines Manual” for all federal crimes.

    It also created a system of points. Points are scored for the offense committed, how it was committed, and the offender’s background. The more points you get, the longer your sentence. 1 point equals a 6-month jail term. 43 put you in prison for life.

    As of the 2005 US Supreme Court case U.S. v. Booker, the Guidelines Manual now has limits set on it. First, it’s only advisory. So, while it spells out sentences for crimes, judges aren’t required by law to lay down certain sentences. Second, a judge cannot enhance a sentence unless you have admitted to the facts leading to the enhancement, or if the jury has found those facts true.

    Most judges will sentence you in accordance with the Guidelines Manual, and this manual doesn’t go easy on crime. No judge wants to be seen by the public as being too “lenient.”

    3. Capital Punishment is Much Less Likely Under Federal Law

    Since 1950, only 26 executions have been carried out at the federal level, and that includes military executions. At the federal level, you can get executed for espionage, terrorism, treason, federal murder, large-scale drug trafficking, or attempting to kill a court officer, juror, or witness.

    Compare this to the State of Texas, which executed 35 people in 2014 alone and 1,414 since 1976.

    If You’re Accused of a Federal Crime…

    Know that it works much differently than state law. It’s important to have a criminal lawyer experienced and successful in federal law defending you.

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How Criminal Defense Attorneys Structure Their Fees

Posted on: September 10th, 2015 by webmaster No Comments

criminal attorney fee structure

Accused of a serious crime?

Unfortunately, it’s not going to be cheap to defend. Well, it can be if you want an unskilled or inexperienced attorney. But if you want skilled legal representation and the minimum punishment possible, you have to be willing to pay for it. Good lawyers know their value and charge accordingly.

That being said, there’s a number of ways different lawyers charge. Take a look at some of those so you understand what to expect in criminal court:

1. Personal Injury Lawyers: Charge a Percentage of the Final Settlement Value

Depending on the case, these cases can be way outside the affordability of most Americans. Most personal injury lawyers charge 1/3 of the case’s final settlement value. So if it’s a $100,000 settlement, they take $33,333, and they only collect this fee if they win. Personal injury includes cases like auto accidents, slip-and-falls, medical malpractice, defective products, and many more

2. Corporate Lawyers

These guys get paid by the hour. Money gets deposited into an escrow account. Out of all lawyers, these guys have the potential to make the biggest salaries.

What they do can vary widely. They may act as a general legal counsel to the corporation. They might defend the corporation in lawsuits.

Or they might help in mergers, acquisitions, and IPOs. There’s a ton more duties they could take on too.

3. Criminal Defense Lawyers

Ahhh…on to what you really want to read about. Criminal defense attorneys get paid a retainer fee up front and then take payments over time. And that retainer fee changes with the case. For example, a DWI charge takes less work to defend than a charge of first degree murder.  Also, depending on what is necessary to accomplish your goals, the final total fee may be higher or lower.

For example, if necessary, trial fees are charged additionally. Most cases are resolved without trials. That’s because the justice system could never support the time and cost if every case had go to trial. Trials cost everyone time and money.  If the client is satisfied that he would be found guilty after a thorough review of the evidence against him and a reasonable punishment can be negotiated, then a trial becomes counterproductive for both parties and the courts.

But in some cases, agreements just can’t be reached and in others the client is clearly not guilty. Prosecutors may be unreasonable, thinking they can get a conviction and/or a jail sentence for much longer than you actually deserve.

So trials become necessary.

As an example of how high the costs can be, once you include court fees, a simple DWI charge can cost a total of $10,000 – $15,000 to defend.

The Real Question you Have to Ask Yourself is … “What is your freedom worth to you?”

Public defenders cost nothing, or next to it. But the problem with public defenders is they have overwhelming case loads. So they don’t have the time to research your case and give you the best defense possible. And you may not even be able to get in contact with them, except during the actual hearings and trial. Plus, they’re usually young and inexperienced.

If you’re accused of a crime, hire an experienced criminal defense attorney. You won’t regret it.

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Why are Federal Criminal Offenses More Costly to Defend?

Posted on: August 31st, 2015 by webmaster No Comments

 Federal Criminal Offenses

You probably have at least a basic idea of how state criminal court works. You’ve seen the shows on TV, or at least the commercials. But if you’re like most people, the federal criminal justice system is a mystery.

No sweat – I’ve got you covered. At a basic level, federal crimes are much more complex to defend than state ones.

Here’s why:

1. Federal Prosecutors Have More Discretion to Choose Their Cases

At the state level, the police usually choose who to charge. Since the 1960s, America’s prison population has grown from 217,000 to 2.3 million because of tough-on-crime policies and the war on drugs. Prosecutors are literally overwhelmed with the number of cases they have to handle.

At the Federal level, prosecutors work more closely with the law enforcement agents during the investigation stages of the case. So they have more flexibility to choose strong cases they believe are worth prosecuting.

2. Federal Prosecutors Have More Time To Work on Their Cases

Also, because federal prosecutors typically have fewer cases, they have more time to prepare stronger arguments. So, criminal defense attorneys need to prepare more complex defenses.

By the time your case gets to court, the prosecuting Assistant United States Attorneys (AUSAs) have already decided they’re going to pursue your case. In most situations, you’ve already been investigated for weeks, and likely months or years. At the state level, higher caseloads lead to prosecutors just starting to get familiar with the basics of your case prior to court.

3. The Federal Sentencing Guidelines Play a Major Role

In Federal cases, the Court is required to consider what the punishment should be by calculating the Federal Sentencing Guidelines range.  There are no similar guidelines calculations in the State of Texas court system.

The guidelines use a combination of the type of offense, facts specifically unique to this particular offense, and the criminal history of the defendant to determine a range of punishment.  The Judge must consider this range, although it is advisory only. The Judge may assess a sentence higher or lower than the calculated range but must also justify such a decision.

Having an attorney to represent you that has experience with the Federal Sentencing Guidelines and the affects that it will have on the outcome of your case can make a huge difference in what your sentence may be.

4. Federal Law Itself is More Complex than State Law

In the first place, federal prosecutors target larger, more complex criminal activity. Cases similar to state-level cases can include thousands of pages more in documentation and more hours of staff research at the federal level.  The extra time required to examine and look for potential problems with the evidence provided though the discovery process makes for much more work on the attorney’s part.

5. Federal Cases Carry More Severe Punishments

Simply put, federal statutes typically recommend harsher punishments than state statutes for similar crimes. Federal prosecutors also have less discretion than their state counterparts do in negotiating plea bargains due to the Sentencing Guidelines. And, almost every federal crime has additional punishment enhancements. Plus, crimes like child pornography have such intense social stigma that they carry severe punishments.

For the most part, parole is also unavailable to federal prisoners. The 1984 Sentencing Reform Act eliminated parole for all prisoners convicted on or after November 1, 1987. Just a few exceptions exist to that legislation.

That’s why federal criminal offenses are more costly to defend. Make sure you contact an experience federal criminal defense attorney if you are charged with a federal crime.

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What Will Your Probation Be Like?

Posted on: August 20th, 2015 by webmaster No Comments

probation

What is probation like in Texas? It’s about the same throughout the state. Learn what to expect in this post.

Say you’ve finally been sentenced for your crime. Instead of spending time in jail, you got time on probation.

Texas statutes control probation conditions, so probation works fairly similar throughout the state. However, some jurisdictions enforce the rules of probation more strictly than others.

Here’s a basic idea of what you can expect in Dallas and Collin counties:

First, understand probation includes things you must do and cannot do. You’ll get a written list of your probation conditions the moment you go on probation.

If you’re charged with a misdemeanor, you’ll go on probation the same time you either plead “guilty” or “no contest” to charges. If you’re charged with a felony, you may actually get your probation sentence at a date later than your hearing. The delay in time gives the probation department the time to interview you, do a drug test, prepare a report, and make any special recommendations regarding probation conditions they think you should have.

Expect Some of These Specific Conditions During Your Probation Period

You will have to report to a probation officer (PO). There will be a specific number of times you have to report to your PO each month.

You may have to do this weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly. Initially, you report in person. If you have finished 1/3 of your probation, completed all conditions, and do so with none or few problems, you may be eligible for early release from probation. You can also request early release through your probation officer, your attorney, or the judge. Alternatively, you may be able to report to get unsupervised probation, or report to probation by mail.

Regardless of the type of probation you serve, you will have to pay monthly fees to be on probation. The State of Texas views probation as a privilege, so they make you pay a monthly fee for it. In most cases, you’ll pay at least $25 per month, and your monthly payment can increase to $60 or more.

You may also have to pay fees for:

  • Restitution (Example: You’re convicted of a DWI and emergency personnel had to come to the scene of the accident you caused. You may be required to pay restitution to cover the cost of their services).
  • Drug testing
  • Other fees as assessed

And regardless of the crime you commit, you are not allowed to be under the influence of street drugs. In many, but not all criminal cases, this can include alcohol too.

You also cannot associate with other people who have a criminal history. This can include immediate family members. Some judges set this condition on your probation, while others don’t.

And you may also be subject to these conditions:

  • Submission of a blood, breath, or urine specimen upon request
  • Home or work visits by your probation officer
  • Nightly curfew
  • Being forbidden to go to bars, night clubs, or strip clubs
  • Having the requirement that you request permission before leaving your county
  • Wearing an ankle bracelet
  • Being under house arrest
  • Having to take classes or complete evaluations to submit to your probation officer

And of course, you can’t commit any new offenses (class B misdemeanors and above) if you want to stay on probation. Even minor offenses, like recurrent class C misdemeanors, are enough to get your probation revoked. Class C misdemeanors can include things like theft of property under $50, disorderly conduct, criminal trespass, public intoxication, or a traffic offense that results in a ticket.

Remember, The Point of Probation is to Help You Turn Your Life Around

You can look at probation two ways:

  • You made some mistakes and need to make some changes in life.
  • It’s the criminal justice system’s fault, and you have no responsibility.

How you view your probation is your choice. And hopefully you choose to do the right thing and get your life back on track.

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