Probation Violations: What Happens When You Break the Rules

Probation is an alternative to going to jail or prison. Instead of being incarcerated, the person remains free for the amount of time they’re sentenced to probation. Typically, probation is ordered for one to three years, but sometimes longer. Texas two types of probation: straight probation and deferred adjudication.

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To remain free, the individual must meet probation conditions assigned by the court. These conditions include meeting with a probation officer or random drug and/or alcohol testing. When these conditions aren’t followed, it’s considered a probation violation.

How is Probation Violation Defined?

Probation violation is defined as the criminal offense of breaking the conditions or terms of a person’s probation. The consequences of probation depend on many factors such as the type of violation, previous violations, and parole officer’s decision.

Common Probation Violations

All cases and conditions of probation are different. However, there are some conditions of probation that are commonly violated such as:

  • Getting arrested for another crime. If arrested for another crime, the person must inform their probation officer. Don’t discuss the new criminal charges the probation officer will testify later at the criminal trial. Call a criminal attorney immediately. It’s important to start working to get the charges dropped, reduced, or prepare for trial.
  • Not reporting to the probation officer. Both probation officers and judges are serious about making all appointments with the officer.
  • Failing a drug test. Unfortunately, relapses do happen. It’s important to take advantage of treatment options if they are given as a punishment as violating probation. Another unfortunate circumstance is a false positive on a drug test.

Nothing is worse than being accused of relapsing when it’s not true. The person must stand their ground and not let the probation officer force them in admitting they took drugs and/or alcohol. It’s important to contact an attorney and discuss options for proving the probation officer wrong.

Consequences of Violation Probation

Consequences of probation violation ranges from a minor to major punishment. For instance, a probation officer may decision to give the person a warning. The probation officer may tell the person not to commit another violation. If it happens again, the probation will report the next violation to the judge.

The probation officer may give a warning, based on the violation. They can also decide the judge who’ll hear the case has a large caseload and doesn’t need another case.

A probation officer may decide a harsher punishment is more appropriate such as:

  • Rehabilitation

Any probation violation involving alcohol and/or drugs may result in going or returning to treatment. Examples of this type of probation violation includes failing a drug and/or alcohol test and being found in possession of drug paraphernalia.

  • Pay Additional Fines

A person who violates probation may be ordered to pay additional fines. The additional payment may be to the court or to the victim in the case.

  • Counseling

If a person has emotional or mental problems causing them to violate probation such as bi-polar depression, the probation officer may order counseling. Counseling is ordered to work on the underlying mental or emotional issue causing them to violate probation.

  • More Probation Time

Any time a person violates probation, there’s a chance the probation officer may increase the amount of probation. For instance, a person may be ordered to serve one year probation. They violate a condition of their probation. The probation officer decides that punishment for that violation is two more years of probation.

  • Jail

The goal of probation is to minimize or avoid serving jail time altogether. A probation violation may land a person in jail. Their jail time is typically for a brief time to punish them for the probation violation.

  • Probation Revocation

The probation officer may inform the judge about the violation. It is up to the judge if they will revoke the probation. To revoke probation means the person no longer serves the alternative jail sentence. Instead, they serve the original punishment, which may be time in jail.

  • Additional Criminal Charges

This punishment depends on the type of probation violation. For instance, the violation was robbing a store. The person would be charged with violating probation and robbery. The new criminal charge would have additional penalties such as prison time and fines.

The Texas Probation Violation Process

There’s no set rule regarding what happens immediately after a probation violation. A probation officer may give the person a warning or request a judge provide punishment. The latter involves a court appearance.

The court appearance is called a probation revocation hearing. The probation will submit a motion to Adjudicate (for the person on deferred adjudication) or a Motion to Revoke Probation. The latter is for anyone on straight probation.

The motion will include all the alleged probation violations. A warrant for the person’s arrest is then issued. Once a person is arrested and in county jail, they are entitled to have a bond hearing within 21 days. It’s Texas law.

Anyone on deferred adjudication is entitled to have a bond set. Bond is the amount of money needed to get out of county jail until the case is resolved. If the person is on straight probation, they may remain in county jail without bond.

During the probation hearing, a judge will listen to the prosecutor as they outline the probation violation. The probation officer will testify for the prosecution. This hearing isn’t like a grand jury. A grand jury only hears the prosecutor’s side of the case. The person’s attorney has the right to argue against the probation revocation and present witnesses.

A revocation hearing is the same as a hearing in criminal court. Prosecutors don’t have to work that hard to prove their case. In criminal court, the burden of proof is beyond reasonable doubt. This means prosecutors must leave no doubt of the person guilt in the mind of the jury or judge.

In a revocation hearing, there’s no jury. Prosecutors only have to prove it’s more likely than not that the person violated probation. This burden of proof is called a preponderance of evidence.

After hearing the evidence, the judge will decide if the person violated probation. They’ll also determine the punishment.

Your Rights at a Texas Probation Violation Hearing

You have legal rights when it comes to violating your probation. If you are facing probation violation charges, remember you have the right to:

  • Receive notice in writing about the claim violations against you
  • Have a natural judge hear your case in court
  • Have an attorney represent you at your probation violation hearing
  • Present evidence and provide witnesses to refute the evidence against you and/or support your case

A probation happens when a person is accused of not following the conditions of probation set by the court. These conditions such as staying away from bad influences are included in a probation sentence to keep the person from re-offending. However, if an alleged violation happens, it’s vital the person prepares a case to refute the evidence against them.

If found guilty, the punishment may range from jail time to probation revocation or a warning. Prosecutors don’t have to prove guilt by reasonable doubt. They only have to show the violation most likely happened. This makes the stakes even higher for anyone wanting to remain free.

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