Updated July 25, 2016
If you are facing a criminal charge in Tarrant County, Texas, it is likely that your primary goal is to stay out of jail and keep this criminal charge off of your record. There are many legal options that should be examined and considered before considering a probation plea. For example, if you meet the age criteria and you have never been arrested before, you may qualify for various pretrial diversion and drug diversion programs that can result in your case being dismissed and expunged off of your record upon completion of all the program requirements. Additionally, you may have a strong legal defense that merits a jury trial or reduction in your criminal charges. However, if all other legal options have been examined and are unavailable to you because of your case facts or special circumstances, probation in the form of deferred adjudication may be an option that can prevent a conviction on your record and keep you out of prison or jail.
What to Expect if You Get Probation in Tarrant County
Although probation may be an option to prevent time in jail or a conviction on your record, it is important to understand what the Tarrant County Probation Department and the Tarrant County criminal courts will require of you during your term of probation.
If you are facing a misdemeanor probation, your probation term can run from 6 months to 2 years. During your term of probation, many of the conditions and requirements will vary based upon the type of offense committed.
For example, if you have been placed on a probation for DWI in Tarrant County, it is commonly required that you will have to take and pay for the following classes: DWI education program, Victim Impact Panel and a Substance Abuse Evaluation. You may also have to install a vehicle interlock system that measures alcohol in your breath.
However, if you have been placed on probation for domestic violence assault, you would be required to take Anger Control Classes or more lengthy Batterer’s Intervention Programs required by probation.
In addition to classes, misdemeanor probation can require you to report monthly to a probation officer, give random urinalysis as directed by Tarrant County Probation and complete a specified number of hours of community service. Failure to complete these terms and conditions of probation could result in a warrant for your arrest and a hearing before the judge to determine sentencing for your case.
If you are facing a felony probation, probation terms can run from 2 years to 10 years in length and the stakes are high and consequences are severe for probation violations. Similar to misdemeanor probations, your terms and conditions of probation will vary depending upon the type of offense you committed.
For example, if you are charged with a felony drug case and placed on probation in Tarrant County, you must agree to the recommendations of the treatment providers that assess you when you are initially placed on probation and many of these conditions can be severe. For example, probation counselors may recommend the following inpatient or outpatient treatment options as a requirement of your felony probation: Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, 30 day in-custody treatment options in an Intermediate Sanction Facility (ISF), Intensive Day Treatment (IDT), or Substance Abuse Felony Punishment Facility (SAFPF). As you can see, these options can require a probationer to spend time away from their families and jobs from a period ranging from 30 days up to 1 year.
Keeping Your Probation Officer Happy
Perhaps the most daunting task a new probationer faces in Tarrant County, Texas is the job of keeping their probation officer happy with their work on probation and keeping a good relationship with their probation officer. You have no control over who your probation officer is when they are assigned to you but it is important that you make a good first impression and establish a workable relationship with them. It is all too common to have a young man or woman accept felony deferred adjudication and they are assigned to a probation officer who is difficult to work with and less than 6 months later, the young person is standing before the judge begging for mercy and asking the judge not to send them to prison.
Should You Pursue Probation?
Making a decision to pursue probation in Tarrant County, Texas should come only after long deliberation and counsel with your criminal attorney. Factors such as prior convictions, possible jail time, the strength of your defense without taking deferred adjudication for probation, etc. should all be weighed by both you and an experienced defense attorney.
At The Hampton Law Firm, I have handled thousands of felony and misdemeanor cases and can explain the consequences and requirements of probation and answer all of your questions so that you feel certain that you make the right decisions regarding your criminal case.
For a more thorough explanation of your legal rights and options under Texas law, call my law firm at 817-877-5200.