General Information On Probation
The Texas Constitution grants the Legislature the power to determine the conditions under which the court may place a defendant on community supervision. The Legislature has in turn provided the following list of community supervision conditions that may be imposed on a probationer by the judge. As a general rule, a probationer must:
- Not commit an offense against the law of any state or the federal government. (There need be no proof of conviction to justify revocation of probation if the commission of offense is proved.)
- Avoid injurious or vicious habits. (Proof of one-time drug use may be sufficient for revocation.)
- Avoid persons or places of a disreputable or harmful character. (The state must show that you had knowledge of a person or place’s bad reputation to justify revocation of community supervision for violation of this condition.)
- Permit visits at your home and elsewhere by the supervision officer. (However, it is an unreasonable privacy invasion to require submission to search and seizure at any time of the day or night.)
- Work faithfully at suitable employment.
- Remain within a specified place (usually within the state or county).
- Pay all probation fees, court costs and fines, as well as make any applicable restitution. (The amount of restitution that must be paid is a matter of the trial court’s determination. However, due process requires that there be evidence in the record to show that the amount set by the court has a factual basis.)
- Support your dependents.
- Complete community service work. In rare cases, the judge may exempt you from the requirement of community service if the judge determines and notes on the order that any of the following circumstances exist:
- You are physically or mentally incapable of participating in the project.
- Participating in the project will work a hardship on the probationer or their dependants.
- You are confined in a substance abuse punishment facility as a condition of community supervision.
- There is another good cause shown.
- Reimburse the county for any compensation paid to a court-appointed attorney to defend you.
- If ordered, remain under custodial supervision in a community correction facility, obey the facility’s rules, and pay for room and board. (While under custodial supervision in a community correction facility, a probationer must pay a percentage of any income earned for the support of his or her dependents.)
- If ordered, submit to testing for alcohol or controlled substances.
- If ordered, attend counseling sessions for substance abusers or participate in substance abuse treatment services in a program or facility approved or licensed by the Texas Commission on Alcohol and Drug Abuse.
- If ordered, participate in victim-defendant mediation for the purpose of making restitution to the victim.
- If ordered, submit to electronic monitoring.
- If ordered, reimburse the general revenue fund for any amounts paid under the Crime Victims’ Compensation Program, or, if no reimbursement is required, make one payment to the fund in an amount not to exceed $50 for a misdemeanor or $100 for a felony.
- If ordered, reimburse the appropriate law enforcement agency for the analysis, storage, or disposal of raw materials, controlled substances, chemical precursors, drug paraphernalia or other materials seized in connection with the offense.
- If ordered, pay all or part of the reasonable or necessary costs incurred by the victim for psychological counseling made necessary by the offense or for the counseling and education related to acquired AIDS or HIV made necessary by the offense.
- If ordered, make a one-time payment to crime stoppers.
In setting the terms and conditions of probation, the court is not limited to the above conditions and may impose any reasonable condition it chooses to protect or restore the county, protect or restore the victim, or punish, rehabilitate or reform the probationer.
OFFENSE SPECIFIC TERMS & CONDITIONS
In addition to the enumerated statutory conditions that a court may impose in its order granting community supervision, there are mandatory terms that apply to certain offenses. The list below is not exhaustive and gives a sample of the conditions that may be imposed in the kinds of cases people are arrested for most often:
Intoxication-oriented offenses (DWI, intoxication assault, etc.):
There are mandatory terms of incarceration that must be imposed as a condition of community supervision if you are convicted of an intoxication offense:
- No less than three days in county jail if you have a previous conviction of driving, flying or boating while intoxicated.
- No less than 10 days in county jail if you have been convicted twice previously of driving, flying or boating while intoxicated.
- No less than 30 days in county jail if you are convicted of causing serious bodily injury due to the operation of a motor vehicle, aircraft or watercraft in a public place while intoxicated.
- No less than 120 days of continuous confinement if you are convicted of causing the death of another due to being intoxicated while operating a motor vehicle, aircraft or watercraft.
If you receive probation for an intoxication oriented offense:
You will be required to submit to a drug and alcohol evaluation as a condition of probation. If the evaluation indicates that you are in need of treatment for drug or alcohol dependency, the judge will require you to submit to the treatment as a condition of probation. You cannot consume any alcohol during the period of probation.
There is also a DWI education course that must be completed prior to the 181st day after the day community supervision is granted. The court may waive the education requirement if a sworn, written motion is filed showing good cause for a waiver. In determining good cause, the judge may consider matters such as:
- Your school or work schedule
- Your health
- The distance you must travel to attend an educational program
- The fact that you reside out of state, have no valid driver’s license or do not have access to transportation.
If you are required to participate in these classes, you must pay for the cost of the program, unless the court makes a finding of indigence. Failure to successfully complete this program within the required period will result in the suspension of your driver’s license.
When you are arrested for an intoxication or drug offense, you may be subject to a suspension of your driver’s license suspension. If this happens and you drive without the benefit of an occupational driver’s license, you could be arrested for Driving While License Suspended, a class B misdemeanor.
Suspension consequences can become very complicated for those who have been arrested more than once for DWI and must be discussed on a one-on-one basis.
Ignition interlock device:
Repeat offenders are often required as a condition of probation to have a deep lung breath analysis mechanism installed on any motor vehicle driven by the probationer. This machine renders the vehicle inoperable if ethyl alcohol is detected. You must obtain this device at your own cost before the 30th day after the date of conviction unless the court finds that to do so would not be in the best interest of justice and enters its findings on the record.
If you are required to operate a motor vehicle in the course and scope of your employment and the vehicle is owned by your employer, you may operate that vehicle without installation of this device if your employer has been notified of the driving restriction and proof of the notification is with the vehicle. However, if the business entity that owns the vehicle is owned or controlled by the probationer whose driving privilege has been restricted, the court may order that you not operate the vehicle without the required deep lung device.
Drug offenses (possession of marijuana, controlled substances, dangerous drugs):
You will be required to submit to a drug and alcohol evaluation as a condition of probation. If the evaluation indicates that you are in need of treatment for drug or substance abuse dependency, the judge will require you to submit to the treatment as a condition of probation.
You cannot consume any illegal substances during the period of probation. Since random urinalysis will be required on these probation cases, the general rule is, “Don’t have anything in your system you can’t produce a valid prescription for.”
Other classes for drug offenses may exist from county to county. Any classes required as a condition of probation must be scheduled by and paid for by you, the probationer.
Convictions for many of these cases can also carry driver’s license suspension and must be discussed on a one-on-one basis.
Victim-oriented offenses (assault – simple assault, aggravated assault, harassment, stalking, etc.):
The court may require, as a condition of community supervision, that the probationer not communicate with the victim or go near the residence, place of employment, business, school and day care facility of the victim or the victim’s dependant child. The court must specify what locations and distances are prohibited as part of such a condition.
Assault /family violence cases:
The additional terms and conditions that may be imposed here are numerous. At a minimum, you must attend a batterer’s intervention program or anger management classes at your expense. There may also be an additional payment to a shelter for battered persons. Please speak with attorney Kimberly Griffin Tucker if this section applies to you.
In addition, a conviction for this offense could expose you to problems under the federal system if you own, carry or are found in possession of a firearm.
Sex-oriented offenses (sexual assault, indecency with a child, etc.):
The court may require you to register as a sex offender as a condition of community supervision. The judge may also require that you pay any costs for providing notice of publication about your status as a registered sex offender as required by the Revised Civil Statutes. This registration must be renewed yearly and the failure to comply as mandated here could generate a probation revocation.