Probation, or community supervision, serves as an alternative to the prison system. In probation, a person who has been convicted of a crime, usually a first-time or nonviolent offender, lives and works in his or her community, instead of in prison. It is usually a preferred outcome than being behind bars, although it typically comes with many restrictions and requirements.

If you are on community supervision, you should understand how close you can come to being completely deprived of your liberty. A reported violation of probation (VOP) can put you behind bars. 

If you believe your community supervision officer may file a report saying you violated your terms, it's important to call a probation violation lawyer as soon as possible. You could be at risk of going to jail and serving your sentence.

Terms of Probation in Texas

Chapter 42 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure includes potential terms of probation. These terms must be followed to stay in compliance. Terms most people must abide by include:   

 Not committing another crime;

Avoiding "bad habits" like illegal drug use or, in many cases, consumption of alcohol;   
Submitting to random alcohol and drug testing;

Avoiding anyone associated with any type of criminal activity;

Paying fines, fees and restitution;

Paying child or family support;

Finding suitable employment, and notifying Community Supervision and Corrections of any changes to that employment;

Not leaving Bexar County without properly reporting and obtaining permission;

Reporting to the community supervision officer at least monthly;

Allowing the probation officer to visit the home or place of employment; and

Abiding by any other rules of Community Supervision and Corrections.

 The court may also assign any additional conditions for community supervision, as it deems appropriate. The terms are intended to be tailored to the specific defendant.

Technical Violations vs. Substantive Violations of Probation

A technical violation means that the person failed to follow a rule or procedure, such as failing to pay a fine. A substantive violation means that the person committed another criminal offense. Either type of offense can result in penalties, including losing probation and being sent to jail.

If your community supervision officer believes someone has violated their terms, the officer may submit an affidavit to the judge. He or she could ask for a warrant for your arrest, request more conditions or ask that your probation be revoked.

Having community supervision revoked is a tough sanction and could change your life in an instant. Some of the common penalties include jail or prison time, additional fines and court fees, more community service hours or drug and alcohol counseling or treatment. Facing revocation can be terrifying, especially if you do not have an attorney that is experienced in these types of proceedings.

Hearing for Potential Violations of Community Supervision

Whenever you may face a sanction for a probation violation, you are entitled to a hearing. There is no jury and no "beyond reasonable doubt" requirement. The judge must decide if, by a  preponderance of evidence (or more likely than not), you violated your terms.

At the hearing, your criminal defense lawyer can represent you. He can tell your side of the story and explain why you should not receive penalties. He can request modification of your terms so you are better able to meet them. He can present alternatives to revocation and build a case for continuation of community supervision as opposed to jail time.

Keeping the Terms of Your Probation

If you think your community supervision officer is planning to send an affidavit to the judge saying you violated probation, it doesn't mean you must go straight to jail. Brent Hardy is a South Texas probation violation lawyer who helps those accused of violating community supervision terms keep or modify their terms. Call (210) 415-6662 today to set up a free consultation.