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How to Avoid Prison

By January 7, 2024February 12th, 2024Criminal Defense

Violating probation is not always intentional, even though the law makes it seem that way. Judges feel like probation is giving you a second chance, so they get really upset if you mess it up. But, what if your probation violation is an honest misunderstanding? Or maybe your probation officer was being a jerk? I defend my clients against this situation all the time here in Texas.  I’m going to walk you through the four situations you’re about to experience and what you should do to make sure you can avoid prison or jail as a result of a possible probation violation.

The first situation you’ll encounter is finding out that you have somehow violated your probation. This can usually happen one of two ways. Either you get a special call from your probation officer inviting you in for a special meeting, or you end up finding out from someone else that you have a warrant out for your arrest. Either way, you need to call an attorney immediately. You’re about to be arrested, thrown into jail, and who knows if you’re going to be able to get a bond.  If you go to that special meeting with your probation officer, do you know what they’ll do? They’re going to begin to question you about your possible violations.  Any good excuse you might give, they’re going to write it down, to make it appear that you may have confessed to the violation.  Either way, even if you don’t say anything, they’re going to ask you to stand up, put your hands behind your back, and they’re going to take you to jail. For example, I had a client that tested positive for a controlled substance, while he was on probation. He went and visited his probation officer and he explained to him that he’s been taking a new medication from his doctor. Now, of course, he had no idea that there was a controlled substance within that medication, but he did admit to the probation officer that it might be the reason he tested positive. Guess what the probation officer did?  The probation officer wrote down that he confessed to using a controlled substance. So, if you call a lawyer before you go to that special probation officer meeting, your attorney can make sure and help you know what to say. But more importantly, what not to say to that probation officer? If that officer arrests you, now, you can make sure your attorney can help you get a bond and get you out of jail.

LAWYER: Avoiding Jail With Probation Violations!

On the other hand, if you get arrested by being pulled over by a police officer, or by an officer coming to your house and arresting you, you will now be hauled into jail. There will be a hold placed against you and unless you call your lawyer to come and make a request from the judge to have a bond set, then you’ll continue to sit in jail. Soon enough, you’ll end up, potentially, having a probation revocation hearing where the judge will make a determination whether you should stay on probation or whether you should go to jail, or prison. One option you don’t have is just being set free and released from the probation. The moment you stood in front of the judge, and you did a plea of guilty before the judge, you are now on the probation until you complete it or you are given an early release. So, as a result of that, if you go to this hearing, the definition of a win is to be placed back on the probation and avoid going to jail or prison. Even if your probation officer is mistreating you, or maybe the entire probation department is mistreating you, remember it doesn’t mean you can just get off of probation.

So how do you prepare for the probation revocation hearing, to hopefully avoid jail or prison? Well, you and your attorney need to work hard for this, because in order for the prosecutor to prove what is necessary to convince the judge to send you to prison, they have to prove you violated your probation by a preponderance of the evidence. That’s fancy lawyer talk for saying they have to prove at least 51% that you violated your probation. In order to defend you, a good criminal lawyer will start by, first, by gathering all the evidence and information necessary to present information to both the probation department, the prosecutor, and the judge, informally. Good criminal attorneys can, many times, convince the judge and the prosecutor to reinstate your probation behind closed doors, without the requirement of having to go to a formal hearing. In fact, many judges will appreciate your criminal attorney taking this perspective because it helps save the court from unnecessary wasted time in an actual hearing.  Number two, a good criminal attorney will also prepare witnesses to testify about your good character and work history, helping to show that you’re a low risk to the community and a good person in the community. This may help the judge feel more comfortable with giving you a second chance and putting you back on that probation. Finally, an experienced criminal defense lawyer in Fort Worth will also help you get ready to testify. We don’t normally advise this in any other setting. But, when you’re on probation, there’s one person you have to convince that you should remain on that probation and that’s the judge.  I can guarantee you a judge is going to want to hear from you in order to make the decision to reinstate your probation. In fact, if you choose to remain quiet and not provide a reasonable explanation, or at least provide a human perspective, on exactly why you violated that probation you give the judge an easy out to send you to jail or to prison. After you’ve completed the hearing there’s only two possible outcomes. The judge will either reinstate your probation and allow you to complete it to fulfillment, or he’s going to sentence you to jail or prison time.

But, just because you won your hearing, doesn’t mean you’re completely out of the woods. One of the best ways to avoid prison or probation is to learn the tricks that the police officers might use against you in a traffic stop or a police encounter. Check out this next video where I give you the lowdown on everything you need to do to avoid being a victim of the police lying to you or playing tricks on you. I’ll see you over there.

Jeff Hampton

After getting his Juris Doctor from the University of Houston Law Center, Jeff Hampton began practicing criminal law in Texas in 2005. Before becoming a felony crimes lawyer, he worked as a prosecutor for the Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office – experience he uses to anticipate and cast doubt on the arguments that will be used against his clients. Over the course of his career, he has helped countless Texans protect their rights and get the best possible outcome in their criminal cases. He has been named one of the 3 Best DUI Lawyers in Fort Worth, recognized by Expertise, National Trial Lawyers, Avvo, and others, and he is Lead Counsel rated.