If you have been suspected of violating probation, police prosecutors might issue a warrant for your arrest, and you can be sentence held in county jail while a revocation hearing is scheduled. It is important to act carefully and with legal guidance in such a situation, as probation is a lenient punishment granted by the court in place of what could have been a much stricter.
If you have been accused of violating probation, know that you have the right to:
- Enter a plea in response to the violation;
- Present evidence in defense of your alleged violation; and
- Seek legal representation.
To better understand next steps following a probation violation, it will be helpful to know what the consequences of such a violation could be and what a revocation hearing entails.
Two Types of Probation Violations
Violating any terms of your probation, no matter how minor, constitutes a probation violation (also referred to as “community supervision” in Texas law). Such violations could range from the consumption of drugs and alcohol to failing to report to your probation officer. In Texas, there are two main categories of probation violation.
Deferred Adjudication Probation
This type of probation occurs when the court delays your conviction and dismisses it if you satisfy all the terms of your probation. If you violate deferred adjudication probation, you may end up facing the maximum sentence for that particular crime.
Straight probation occurs when the court finds you guilty, but the judge allows you to serve community supervision instead of a more serious penalty, such as jail time. The consequence of violating straight probation may be serving the remainder of the sentence behind bars. In some cases, you may have to serve the entire maximum sentence. For example, if you were sentenced to two years but served one on probation before violating your terms, you may still find yourself in jail for the entire two-year sentence.
The Revocation Hearing
A violation can lead to your probation being revoked. A judge can also modify the terms of your probation to be even stricter. The decision is made during the revocation hearing, which is held by the judge. Note that Texas does not use a jury for probation revocation hearings.
During the hearing, the prosecutor will come from the District Attorney’s office. They will have the burden of proof to show that a probation violation actually occurred. The prosecution only needs to prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, that you violated your probation. This means that they simply need to prove that the violation was more likely to have occurred than not.
On the side of the defendant, the defense attorney can argue that there was no probation violation, or they can show that the violation was minor, and probation thusly should not be revoked.
If the judge rules that probation was not violated, the defendant goes free from consequences of violation and their probation resumes. If the judge rules that there was a violation, though, they can either:
- revoke probation and send the defendant to jail; or
- release the defendant but tighten the rules of probation.
If the defendant is released in this case, the terms of probation will be much stricter and even might be longer. The probationer will also likely become ineligible for early termination, which has the power to end a probation before its set end date. Note that probationers with a prior violation almost never qualify for early termination.
The best thing to do after you have been accused of violating probation is to seek legal counsel. An experienced criminal defense lawyer can either show that you did not violate your probation or re-negotiate the terms of your probation to avoid jail time. In any case, your right to legal representation in a case of probation violation will be key to securing a favorable outcome.
Contact our attorneys at Jerry Loftin & Associates for a consultation today.