Can a Failed Drug Test Result in a Probation Revocation?

By Dallas and Collin County Criminal Defense Lawyer Jeremy Rosenthal

(972) 562-7549

The short answer is yes.  But as with all things in our court system, it’s not certain.

Here’s how a revocation works — if you do something (or don’t do something) which is a violation of your probation or deferred adjudication, then usually a probation officer will make the decision to recommend revocation to the prosecuting attorney.  If the prosecuting attorney agrees with the probation officer (and virtually all will), then a motion to revoke probation is filed, and usually a warrant is issued.  After the accused is brought back to court, the revocation is heard.  (FYI, you’re entitled to a bond on misdemeanor revocations but for felony revocations you are not entitled to a bond in Texas.  You’re only entitled to a bond for felony revocations if you were on deferred adjudication).

Technically, a probation officer in Texas works for the Judge, but they don’t carry the power of the judge.  If they want to take any action against you — they cannot do so on their own.  In order for a probation officer to formally change the terms and conditions of your probation, they must either do so with your agreement (admittedly sometimes after bullying probationers with “or else” threats), or they must go through the prosecutor.

A failed drug test is a common example of a probation violation that results in revocation (or adjudication if the person is on deferred).  Probation officers consider many things, however, before deciding to revoke.  They are people too and they’ll hopefully consider your history, your past cooperativeness or progress, or your sincerity in admitting making a mistake if that’s the case.  In some counties, probation officers may have a bigger or smaller case load — and unfair as it may be, that can also impact their decision.

If you have questions about how a probation officer is treating you or if you’re not sure about legal representations they make to you — it is not inappropriate at all to involve a lawyer.  Also remember that you have the right to remain silent even with a probation officer about violations they may allege.

*Jeremy Rosenthal is Board Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and licensed by the Supreme Court of Texas. Nothing in this article is intended to be legal advice.  For legal advice about any particular matter you should consult an attorney directly.

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