Messina Madson & Kendall Castello, MC Criminal Law
A Guide to Probation Violations in Texas Criminal Cases
After you’re placed on probation, you’re required to meet the conditions of probation. It’s important to keep a copy of the list of rules and tasks that will be necessary to complete the process.
Some general probation conditions apply in every county, but other terms of probation may be added because of the offense of the original sentence.
What happens if you violate probation?
If you don’t meet the list of probation conditions, the DA (or a probation officer) can file a document with the court called a Motion to Revoke. This motion outlines the alleged violations. The judge can look at the motion and decide to issue a warrant without a hearing.
Some examples of probation violations are:
- fines that are not paid,
- testing positive for drugs or alcohol,
- refusing to take a drug test,
- having contact with a prohibited person, or
- any new arrests.
Caution: A warrant can be issued against you without you being heard in court or notified in advance or presenting evidence. However, you would be entitled to a probation violation attorney and a hearing before the violation is decided or the sentencing judge assesses punishment.
Can a probation violation be dismissed?
Yes—a probation violation motion can be dismissed or withdrawn. With the help of a criminal defense attorney, the issue can be resolved or modified in numerous ways, depending on the type of probation violation. For example, a person with a positive drug test may have to comply with some form of treatment. A probation violation lawyer will explore options that work for both the client and the DA.
The Motion to Revoke also can be withdrawn. This happens when the criminal defense attorney can show the person was falsely accused of the violation before the case gets to a formal hearing. It can also happen when the attorney provides a solution that addresses the terms that were violated and the Court agrees.
Your defense attorney can also fight the allegations in a probation violation hearing. To proceed with the revocation, the government must meet the burden of proof; a preponderance of the evidence. If they cannot meet this burden the violations are ruled "untrue."
Can you violate probation and still avoid jail?
Yes—a probation violation does not always result in jail time. The court’s response depends on the category of the violation and its severity. The court has broad discretion in probation violations and will often allow alternative options before jail.
As previously mentioned, the court will likely require an evaluation and/or treatment in response to a positive drug test. A good attorney should be able to negotiate solutions to violations of any kind.
What happens if you don’t show up for probation?
The worst thing you can do is not show up. It bears repeating: if you have problems meeting your probation requirements, your attorney can find solutions. But if you make a decision not to appear, you’ll rack up more violations that are easy for the state to prove and diminish your chances for the best outcome in court. The longer you refuse to appear, the judge becomes less likely to consider options other than jail.
How to get off probations early
Some courts will allow people in good standing to end their probation early or stop reporting. For your best chance at this, you should avoid any violations and successfully complete any classes or requirements before the deadline. If you are able to pay any fines or restitution off early to increase your chances.
This decision remains completely at the court’s discretion, but it’s a good conversation to have with your attorney at the time of the plea.
At Madson Castello we often circle back with clients on probation to see if we can adjust their probation terms. We want to help make life easier for those who remain in good standing with the court or complete their conditions early.
If you or a loved one are facing a probation violation, you’ll reduce your stress if you make a plan. Call us to visit about your options.