To be arrested and charged with a crime does not mean you will automatically go to jail or prison. You must be convicted of the crime. But even when incarceration is a potential penalty of the crime you allegedly committed, there are alternatives. Probation is one such alternative. But getting probation depends on the charge, the facts, and the circumstances as well as how persistent and resourceful your defense attorney is.
What Constitutes Probation in San Antonio?
Probation in Texas is a court order that allows an offender to serve their sentence in the community under supervision, rather than in jail. In exchange, the offender must comply with the conditions of the probation order. The court sets the specific conditions and length of the order, subject to any relevant laws.
Probation is administered by probation officers who monitor and support offenders. The goal of probation is rehabilitation. For this reason, it's usually ordered for first-time or less serious offenses.
Probation is different from parole. While parole also involves community supervision, it's granted by a parole board after an offender has served part of their jail sentence. Parole is a form of early release whereas probation is part of the court's initial sentence.
How is Probation Ordered in San Antonio?
A court can order probation in one of two ways. Firstly, it can give an offender probation instead of jail time. The court does this by sentencing the offender to a suspended period of imprisonment and probation. If the offender completes their probation, they won't have to serve any time in jail.
Alternatively, a court can order an offender to be released on probation after serving some time in jail. This usually leads to a reduction in the amount of jail time an offender is required to serve.
General Conditions of Texas Probation
The specific conditions of probation depend on the nature and seriousness of the offense and the personal circumstances of the offender.
Under a probation order, a court may order an offender to:
- Report regularly to a probation officer
- Attend counseling or other rehabilitation programs
- Appear at scheduled court hearings
- Restrict their drug and alcohol use and participate in regular testing
- Comply with a curfew
- Complete community service
- Pay a fine or restitution to a victim
- Avoid certain people or places
- Avoid further criminal acts
- Remain in the state unless travel outside the state has been cleared by the probation officer
- Wear a GPS monitor
- Keep the probation officer updated on any changes to your name, address, or other contact information
This is not an exhaustive list. There are many options available to a court when deciding the conditions of a probation order.
Violations of Probation in San Antonio
There can be serious consequences if an offender doesn't comply with the conditions of their probation.
For minor or first-time violations, a probation officer may issue a formal warning. But more serious breaches will require the offender to reappear before a judge, who can order further probation, large fines, revoke the probation order, or send them to jail.
Do I Need a Criminal Defense Lawyer in Texas?
If you are at risk of being sentenced to probation, it's important to seek the assistance of an experienced u criminal defense lawyer. While probation may be preferable to jail, the conditions can be onerous and probation orders can last for many years. A criminal defense lawyer can make submissions on your behalf to the court to help you get better conditions under a probation order.