The ultimate goal of the Texas probation program is rehabilitation — so that people convicted of felonies can successfully integrate into society as productive, law-abiding citizens. In this respect, probation benefits those convicted of crimes just as much as it helps society as a whole.
Just because it’s beneficial, however, doesn’t mean that probation in Texas is easy to navigate. One false move and a felony defendant could quickly end up in prison.
When Is Probation Awarded in Texas?
Most felons secure a probation sentence in Texas by negotiating a plea bargain with the prosecution. For example, a defendant might forego the Texas indictment process with a grand jury, and agree to a plea deal in which he or she pleads guilty in exchange for avoiding prison time. Instead of prison, the defendant will usually receive a probation sentence.
In other cases, a sympathetic judge might give a first-time offender a second chance by issuing a probation sentence in lieu of prison time.
What Are the Terms of Felony Probation in Texas?
Texas felony probation rules vary depending on the defendant, the conviction, and whether the sentencing judge issued special probation conditions. Generally, felony probation requirements in Texas require defendants to:
- Attend their regularly scheduled meetings with their probation officers –on time, every time. These meetings usually happen on a monthly basis but a judge might instruct a different probation meeting schedule.
- Maintain a job in a reliable and lawful occupation.
- Not break any laws. This applies to all federal, state and local laws — even laws in other nations.
- Not ingest alcohol, illicit drugs or other controlled substances.
- Stay away from criminal associates. In other words, they can’t socialize or spend time with people who could potentially lead them into committing another crime.
- Permit their probation officers to carry out unscheduled visits at their homes and workplaces.
- Permit their probation officers to conduct random and unscheduled searches.
- Complete a specific amount of community service.
- Request approval before moving to a new residence, changing jobs or traveling out of Texas.
- Pay all court costs, supervision fees, and fines.
- Submit to regular drug tests by their probation officers.
What Are the Special Conditions of Probation?
Texas criminal court judges have the liberty to impose special conditions in a probation sentence, as long as it is within the Texas probation laws. These special terms of probation in Texas are dependent on any number of other factors that relate to the case. They could even include a creative form of punishment that is particular to the case at hand.
Special conditions typically involve the completion of classes, rehabilitation programs, and other education requirements like:
- Sex offender registration
- Texas drug offender programs
- Victim impact programs
- Drug and alcohol assessments
- Life skills classes
- Mental health counseling programs
- Drunk driving education programs
- Ignition interlock device installation
What Is Deferred Probation in Texas?
Deferred probation, or “deferred adjudication,” is when a judge defers the defendant’s prison sentence, pending the successful completion of probation. If a convicted person fails to follow the probation rules, it could result in revocation of the deferral and the defendant being sent to prison.
In this respect, defendants with deferred probation have the most to lose. Someone with normal probation might not go to prison if he or she fails to follow the rules, but a deferred probation defendant runs this risk — making it imperative that he or she is on the absolute best behavior throughout the probation period.
The Importance of Following Texas Probation Rules
It’s not uncommon for defendants to complain that it’s difficult to follow the terms of felony probation in Texas. However, defendants must follow the requirements of their probation officers or face stiff consequences. On a positive note, probation officers usually make their terms more relaxed when individuals exhibit good behavior.
Learn More About the Probation Process
The more defendants know about the rules of probation in Texas, the better chances they’ll have of navigating probation successfully.
Having a federal criminal defense lawyer in Houston during the probation process can be enormously helpful to ensure that the defendant does not make any mistakes while satisfying the requirements of the probation officer.
Contact The Law Offices of Seth Kretzer today for help with your Texas probation proceedings.