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Understanding Probation Under Texas Criminal Law

Apr 23, 2008
In Texas Criminal Law, instead of simply going to jail, it is possible for a defendant to receive community supervision (probation) for up to a ten year period. But under the term community supervision, there are two variations on this punishment that you need to fully understand if you are a defendant in a criminal trial: Deferred Adjudication and Regular Community Supervision. The differences between the two of these distinctions vary enough that if you are considering either of these options, you should have a complete grasp of what exactly you are agreeing to or being offered.

Community Supervision has various terms that are set pending on what charges the defendant has against them. If the charge is a misdemeanor, the resulting sentence can be as long as two years; however as a felony the sentence could be as long as ten years. By accepting community supervision you do not necessarily avoid jail time completely, as a period of between 30 days and 180 days can be ordered by the judge depending on your charge.

When under community supervision, there are several requirements that are imposed on the individual. These requirements many include drug testing, employment review, and community service. If any of these requirements are not met, it is within the power of the court to revoke the community supervision.

The first variation, known as Deferred Adjudication, leaves the defendant without a conviction on their record if they fully complete all terms of their community supervision. This is usually a punishment offered specifically to first time offenders, but this punishment is no longer available once the trial has begun as a jury does not have the power to grant it. As stated before, the community supervision may be revoked if the terms are not properly completed. If this occurs, the defendant may be sentenced to jail time up to the maximum allowed by the statutory range, with no consideration given to the time spent under their Deferred Adjudication.

In Texas, a completed Deferred Adjudication may remove the conviction from your record, but it will still have an effect on different aspects of your life. While it is possible to have the Deferred Adjudication expunged or sealed, the punishment is often still visible when the individual attempts to purchase a gun, apply for a job, and even register for a state issued professional license.

The second variation, Regular Community Supervision, does leave a conviction on the record of those who receive this method as a punishment. Where Deferred Adjudication could not be offered during a trial, Regular Community Supervision is a punishment issued by a trial jury. The punishment issued if a Regular Community Supervision is revoked will often be less than the maximum allowed by the statutory range.

You cannot seal a Regular Community Supervision through a non-disclosure or by expunging it as it is a conviction. After one third of the term has been completed, it is possible to have the charges dismissed or set-aside and thus removing the felony conviction. However, this does not remove the conviction as it would if it was sealed or expunged.

The common myth that by simply finishing your community supervision term, your record will stay clean is unfortunately untrue in Texas. While this article may have provided you with insight into understanding the charges against you, it would be wise to speak with a Texas Criminal Lawyer to review all of your specific options. Each individual case has differences that can not be generalized, so the results of these decisions may alter your life more than you give it credit for.
About the Author
If you're faced with the choices detailed above, it is recommended that you contact either a Houston Criminal Attorney or a Houston DWI Lawyer depending on what the charges are against you.
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