PROBATION REVOCATION

PROBATION REVOCATION IN CENTRAL TEXAS

I’ve recently been retained to help a former client on a probation revocation in one of the felony courts in Travis County, and it got me thinking about our firm’s approach to dealing with probation revocations in general here in Central Texas. Typically, these types of proceedings begin when a client is on probation and the county or district attorney—depending on whether the probation is for a misdemeanor or a felony—will file a motion to revoke probation (which will trigger the probation revocation in the Court that imposed the probation). This will typically generate a warrant for the client’s arrest, which can be executed by any peace officer in the State, as well as the client’s probation officer by the next scheduled reporting. What we do first is identify what has triggered the probation revocation: unpaid fees, missed appointments, or—as is most often the case—a new criminal offense. The next step is to identify the Court that imposed the probation. Each judge handles probation revocations differently. Some defer to the prosecutors for punishment or modification. Others rely on the Court’s adult probation department. The rest make their own determination based on information compiled by the probation staff. The best policy is to identify when the warrant has been issued, ask the judge to set a bond, and apply for a personal recognizance bond (not often an option in Williamson County). In the case of a rejected appeal for the PR bond, we’ll work with our clients to secure a surety bond and facilitate a walk–through. Next, we’ll begin the defense of the probation revocation, often by attacking the triggering event (which, again, is most often a subsequent arrest). If we’re able to successfully attack this event, we usually can convince the judge looking to revoke probation that a probation revocation is unnecessary and he or she will continue the client on probation, as if the violation had never occurred. Finally, we are willing and capable of putting the State to its burden of proof in the probation revocation hearing, if it comes to that.