A convicted offender on formal probation can reschedule their probation appointment by contacting their probation officer or their county’s community supervision and corrections department (CSCD). If the individual is on federal probation, they should contact the appropriate federal probation office. If an individual misses their scheduled appointment, the court could find them in violation of their probation. The offender will then face a new criminal case for violation of probation.
Ways to Violate Probation
An individual can violate probation by missing their probation appointment entirely, being very late for their probation appointment, committing another crime or failing to complete community service. An individual can also violate probation by failing to complete a required program such as substance abuse treatment, failing drug tests or failing to maintain employment.
Each individual’s conditions of probation are different. One person on probation may be allowed to travel to another county or state without securing permission from their probation officer. Another individual may be required to get permission from their probation officer to cross the county line.
Types of Probation Supervision in Texas
A convicted offender who has been charged with a misdemeanor may be eligible for informal probation, also known as summary probation or court probation. This type of probation is supervised by the court. The offender on informal probation does not have a probation officer. They are required to make their next court date and abide by the terms of probation, such as abstaining from alcohol use.
Formal probation involves reporting to a probation officer for the county in which the offender lives. If the offender relocates, they must notify their current community supervision and corrections department. They may also want to communicate with the community supervision and corrections department in the new county.
The offender will violate their probation if they move and fail to transfer their probation case. An initial term of probation can be up to five years for a state jail felony and up to 10 years for a first, second or third degree felony. For a misdemeanor case, the initial term of probation can be up to two years.
Deferred Adjudication and Probation
Deferred adjudication is a type of probation in Texas that allows an offender to have the charge removed from their record. A defendant usually has to pay a fine and court costs, complete community service hours and refrain from committing a new crime. If the defendant successfully completes the terms of their probation, the case against them will be dismissed. The court will not make a finding of guilt or a final conviction.
If a defendant violates the terms of a deferred adjudication, the court may revoke probation, find the defendant guilty and sentence them to a term of incarceration up to the maximum sentence for the offense.
How Probation Works in Practice
A community supervision and corrections department typically supervises offenders who are sentenced to formal probation by local courts. It also supervises offenders who live in the county and receive community supervision in another county or state. A CSCD department may have multiple satellite locations throughout the county as well as a central office. An individual is typically required to show up at the specific location that CSCD or a court order stated. They cannot just show up at any of the locations and expect not to violate their probation.
The CSCD offers a selection of programs and services to rehabilitate individuals for their offenses. These programs usually include community service restitution, domestic violence intervention program, employment services program, felony alcohol intervention project, high risk/youthful offender program, mental health diversion program, mentally impaired offender program, specialized sex offender program, substance abuse programs and veterans court program.
When an individual is required to engage with a specific program at a CSCD office and fails to show for the appointment or refuses services, the court may find them in violation of their probation.
Drug Testing Programs
A CSCD may post rules for its drug testing programs on its website. For example, the Tarrant County CSCD states that a probationer who is required to check in daily for urine analyses must do so seven days a week. It may be possible in some counties for the probationer to check in online. The CSCD has a random drug testing system that requires a PIN number.
Penalties for Violation of Probation
An individual who violates their probation could face the maximum term of incarceration for the offense for which they were convicted. They will get credit for jail time already served. If they fail to show for a probation appointment, they will receive a notice from CSCD. The court may then modify, revoke or terminate the individual’s probation. If the court terminates their probation, a law enforcement officer may take the offender into custody.
Violation of Probation Hearings
If the offender is taken into custody, the court will then set the individual’s new violation of probation (VOP) case for a hearing. The individual has the right to a criminal defense attorney. The standard of proof for the prosecution is lower in a violation of probation case than a new criminal case.
The standard of proof in a VOP case is to the satisfaction of the court, which means showing that it is more likely than not that the defendant violated their probation. The standard of proof in a new criminal case is beyond a reasonable doubt, which means showing that it is almost certain that the defendant committed the offense.
If the court does not find the individual violated their probation, it will allow them to continue serving their probation without any change in circumstances. If the court finds the individual violated their probation, it may sentence the person to a new term in custody. The court can also release the person and make the conditions of their probation more strict. For example, the court can add a curfew or require the offender to complete drug tests more frequently.
Help From a Lawyer
Generally, an offender should be able to reschedule a missed appointment on their own without the assistance of a criminal defense attorney. They may need to present documentation of a prior commitment that is serious enough to warrant rescheduling. In certain situations, it can be helpful for an offender to bring their criminal defense attorney with them to the first probation appointment. Their attorney can explain to the probation officer what the offender is trying to accomplish and why the offender is trying not to violate their probation.
Jessica Zimmer is a journalist and attorney based in northern California. She has practiced in a wide variety of fields, including criminal defense, property law, immigration, employment law, and family law.