Houston Lawyer Charles Johnson offers Post-Conviction Relief (he has on staff Texas’ most prolific appellate and Habeas Corpus attorney), Parole (Attorney Johnson has personally developed a unique, detailed and successful parole package program) and Probation services including Motions to Revoke/Adjudicate and Terminations for any criminal matter.
Instead of sentencing a defendant to a jail term, a judge may perhaps choose to sentence a defendant to probation. Probation releases a defendant back into the community, however the defendant does not have the same amount of freedom as a normal citizen. Probation comes with conditions that restrict a probationer’s behavior, and if the probationer violates one of those conditions, the court could possibly revoke or modify the probation.
Courts commonly grant probation for first-time or low-risk offenders. Statutes determine when probation is practical, but it is up to the sentencing judge to determine whether or not to actually allow probation.
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Although sentencing judges have this latitude, they will have to still remain within the statutory limits when granting probation. By way of example, a judge cannot impose probation for a period longer than the maximum sentence prescribed by statute.
Probation has 3 primary objectives:
- To rehabilitate the defendant
- To safeguard society from further criminal conduct by the defendant
- To protect the legal rights of the victims
Once a judge has granted probation, the matter moves into the jurisdiction of probation officers, who monitor the probationer’s compliance with the terms of the probation.
Conditions are an inherent part of probation. Judges set conditions in order to meet the goals for probation stated above. A probationer should comply with these conditions or else the court could possibly impose a prison sentence or add more restrictive conditions to their probation.
Courts often have a good deal of discretion when setting probation conditions, nevertheless that doesn’t mean that judges may set whatever terms they desire. Probation conditions must be reasonable. This means that the conditions can’t be vindictive, vague, overbroad or arbitrary. In addition, the conditions must be related to the protection of the public. Also, any time a judge wishes to impose special conditions, those conditions must relate to the nature of the transgression that the probationer committed.
Judges set the conditions, however probation officers enforce them. If a probation officer finds probable cause to believe that the probationer has violated the terms of the probation, the judge could very well either change the terms of the probation or revoke the probation and impose a jail sentence.
Because the probationer’s freedom is at stake, however, the probationer must receive some procedural due process before a court revokes their probation. Although the decision to revoke probation, just like the judgment to grant probation, is at the court’s discretion, the court needs to go through a number of procedural requirements prior to revoking probation. The probationer fighting revocation doesn’t have as many rights during revocation proceedings as they do during the original criminal trial, however.
In order to revoke probation, a court has to provide the probationer with notice of the proposed revocation and conduct a hearing on the matter. The probationer has a right to testify at the hearing, present supporting witnesses, and confront the witnesses against them. The probationer also has a right to a neutral hearing body, and must receive a written statement containing the reasons for revoking probation.
If there is sufficient evidence, a violation of even a single condition might result in revocation of probation. The violated condition must be valid, however. If the condition is afterwards found to be unreasonable then violation of that condition will not constitute grounds for revocation.
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If you are accused of violating the terms of your parole or probation or have questions regarding a potential probation criminal offense, please call Houston Criminal Defense Lawyer Charles Johnson 24/7 for a no charge preliminary consultation.