Usually, there are three ways to dispose of criminal cases in Texas: (1) dismissal, (2) jail/imprisonment, (3) community supervision.
Probation is another term for community supervision. Most criminal cases in Texas are resolved pursuant to a plea bargain for probation. While on probation, defendants agree to abide by the probation terms and conditions. Should the defendant violate a probation term or condition, the judge usually issues an arrest warrant for the defendant and the state files a motion to move forward on the original case. Hence, the defendant now faces two charges, i.e., the original case and the probation violation case.
Texas has two types of probation: straight probation or deferred adjudication. When a judge grants a defendant straight probation, the judge sentences the person to jail or prison for a specified term. However, the judge probates or suspends the sentence for a specified term. Significant, straight probation results in a conviction. If the defendant violates any term of his probation the judge has a number of options. She can sentence him to the probated term or extend or continue his probation.
Deferred adjudication can be a better option than straight probation unless the defendant violates his probation. When a judge places a defendant on deferred adjudication, the defendant must enter a plea of guilty or no contest. However, the judge does not find him guilty. Instead, she puts the defendant on deferred adjudication for some period and places his case to the side for that period. If the defendant successfully satisfies his probation, the judge will dismiss the case. However, if the defendant violates his probation, the judge can send him to jail or prison for the maximum amount of time allowed for the original offense. She can also extend or continue his probation. Additionally, she can convert his deferred adjudication to straight probation resulting in a conviction.
Probation Terms and Conditions
As we said above, a defendant on probation agrees to abide by probation terms and conditions. These probation terms and conditions can include a number of prohibitions and requirements such as not picking up new charges, monthly reporting, random drug tests, maintaining employment, sex offender registration, avoiding certain people or neighborhoods, paying fees, and so on.
A Preponderance of the Evidence
Unlike other criminal cases, in probation violation cases the state is not required to prove a person’s guilt based on the beyond a reasonable doubt standard. The state may prove a probation violation by merely offering enough proof to satisfy the preponderance of the evidence standard. This standard is much lower than the beyond a reasonable doubt standard.