What is probation?
Probation is a type of community supervision that allows you to avoid serving prison time for a crime. If you are granted probation, you are convicted at the time of sentencing and no matter how well you do on community supervision, you will always and forever be convicted.
The disadvantage to probation is that you will always be convicted and if the State files a motion to revoke your probation claiming you violated the terms and conditions of your probation, the court can remand you without bond while you wait for the motion to revoke hearing.
The primary advantage to probation (besides avoiding prison time initially), is for those facing 1st and 2nd degree felony charges. Probation caps the exposure of prison time for 1st and 2nd degree offenders to no more than 10 years if the defendant violates probation.
Deferred Adjudication is the other type of community supervision. Each type of community supervision has its advantages and disadvantages. By and large, though, probation and deferred adjudication both require you to do all the same things while you are on community supervision.
If you are granted either type of community supervision you will not go to prison but rather you will be supervised by the county’s community supervision office (aka probation office). The probation office will monitor whether or not you are complying with all the terms and conditions of your community supervision.
What are the conditions of probation?
After entering a plea and being placed on probation, the court will give you a list of terms and conditions of community supervision to follow. The most obvious one is that you shall not commit any new offenses against the state of Texas or United States. Other common conditions include:
- Community Service Hours
- No consumption of alcohol, illegal drugs, or unprescribed medication
- Drug and alcohol testing
- Ignition Interlock (for driving while intoxicated offenses)
- Classes (including anger management, DWI education, or any other course that is relevant to rehabilitating you for the offense for which you are on community supervision)
- Report as directed to your community supervisor
- Pay fines, court costs and fees
Can I change or modify my conditions of probation?
It is important to alert your attorney to any issue you anticipate having with being able to successfully complete your community supervision. While you can request a change/modification to the terms and conditions after you are granted community supervision, it is easiest to address these issues at the time of the plea.
Here are the most common changes/modifications we see:
- Permission to buy out of community supervision.
- Permission to travel.
- Permission to attend classes virtually or report virtually.
- Permission to relocate.
What is deferred adjudication?
Deferred adjudication in Texas is a special type of community supervision where there is no final conviction of guilt if you successfully complete the terms and conditions of your community supervision. After entering a plea for deferred adjudication, the judge can hold off finding you guilty and if you successfully complete the terms and conditions of community supervision, then your case is dismissed.
However, if you are not successful on deferred adjudication, the state can file a motion to enter an adjudication of guilt and if the court determines that you have violated the terms and conditions of your community supervision, the court can then enter the finding of guilt against you and assess punishment anywhere within the full range of punishment.
What are the Benefits of Deferred Adjudication?
If you successfully complete deferred adjudication, your case is dismissed without a final conviction. This allows you to be able to still vote, participate in jury service and maintain other rights that are stripped from someone that is convicted of a felony.
Also, if you are accused of violating the terms and conditions of community supervision while you are on deferred adjudication, the court is required to set a bond amount for you. This is different from someone placed on probation. Those on probation can be held without bond if they are accused of having violated the terms and conditions of probation. There are also cases where you may be abel to terminate your probation early.
What are the Disadvantages of Deferred Adjudication?
The dismissal after you successfully complete the deferred adjudication is not a clean dismissal. The fact that you were on deferred adjudication will continue to show up on your criminal history forever. It will appear as a “deferred adjudication” dismissal. This means you can never get it expunged and it never rolls off your criminal history record (like bad credit does) after 7 years. Do not let attorneys mislead you, not all dismissals are created equally. Make sure you understand what is meant when you are told the case will be dismissed.
The other disadvantage of deferred is that if you mess up while you are on deferred, the whole range of punishment comes back on the table. This is a significant consideration for those facing first and second degree felonies–because in those instances, the range of possible prison time can be up to 20 years on a second degree felony and up to 99 years or life on a first degree felony. Compare this with someone who chose or took probation for the same offense–someone on probation for a first or second degree felony can never receive more than 10 years prison time even if the underlying range of punishment was up to 99 years or life.
Do you have the right to appeal a deferred adjudication?
You have a very limited right to appeal if the court adjudicates you guilty. You can appeal the court’s decision to adjudicate you guilty, but you cannot appeal the underlying case that placed you on deferred (i.e. you can not appeal your guilt/innocence for the underlying crime that gave rise to the deferred). On appeal the courts will only review whether the court violated your rights by adjudicating you guilty after the State accused you of violating the terms and conditions of your deferred.
Can I get Non-Disclosure after being on Deferred Adjudication?
If you are successful on community supervision, you may be eligible to petition the court for a motion for non-disclosure in which the court will seal the court proceedings from the public. Certain entities are still able to see these proceedings even if you have been granted a non-disclosure. Some types of cases are not eligible for non-disclosure, even if you successfully complete the deferred. If you are concerned about what will be on your criminal history or whether you are eligible or non-disclosure, you need to make sure you ask your attorney before you enter the plea.
Navigating the Probation Process with Soyars & Morgan Law
If you are facing criminal charges in Texas and are exploring probation, you must have skilled legal counsel to guide you through the process.
At Soyars & Morgan Law, our knowledgeable attorneys understand the benefits and drawbacks of probation and can assist you in making well-informed case decisions. We will diligently preserve your rights and assist you in achieving the best possible outcome.
Contact us today to schedule a consultation and learn how we can assist you in navigating the criminal justice system.
“I had a wrongful criminal complaint filed against me, which resulted in my arrest; and Jodi Soyars took on my case herself. The results were that my case was dropped, before we went to court, because of her due diligence and aggressiveness. If you want the best to defend you, go to Soyars & Morgan Law.”