Dealing with a Probation Officer

By Dallas and Collin County Criminal Defense Lawyer Jeremy Rosenthal

(972) 562-7549

Probation officers have a hard job.  They deal with many difficult people going through difficult times in their lives.  Probation officers can be your ally or they can be your enemy.

I’m frequently asked by clients and potential clients about how to handle certain situations with a probation officer.  Sometimes it may be appropriate to involve your lawyer but sometimes that can backfire unintentionally.

Probation officers are people too.  Like most people – they don’t react well to being challenged by a probationer or by a lawyer.  Some probation officers will retaliate harshly when their actions are called into question.  In Texas, the probation officers technically work for the judges… but judges want to stay out of the day-to-day monitoring of probationers.  If it seems as if it is a situation where the judge will not be interested — or if it’s an area where the judge and prosecutor will traditionally back up the probation officer, the better course of action may be to tough-it-out with the bad situation.

This doesn’t mean you should subject yourself to an abusive probation officer, however.  You should contact an attorney if you feel like the terms and conditions of your probation need to be modified to avoid an abusive situation.  Also remember that your right to remain silent isn’t checked-in at the door.  In Texas, you do not have to incriminate yourself with regards to other offenses or violations the probation officer may want to question you about.

Sometimes the probation officer can be a valuable ally.  Once in a while, a prosecutor will attempt an aggressive approach to a revocation or adjudication proceeding and the probation officer — who knows the accused far better may disagree.  Having the probation officer on your side can convince the prosecutor to take a different approach or even help convince the judge that the prosecutor is wrong in their assessment.

It goes without saying, but always do your best on probation and always do your best to get along with your probation officer.  They are people too with the same pressures and shortcomings we all have.

*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 situation, you should contact an attorney directly.

3 Responses to Dealing with a Probation Officer

  1. Dub says:

    Good Post. Its very true that probation officers are people and some will be very patient and some wont. I imagine some that aren’t patient probably get sick of some of the offenders that they work with.

  2. Tim says:

    I am in a report by mail situation with my probation officer. My probation officer never answers my calls or responds to my emails. There are some requirements of my probation which I have not been able to fulfill because of her unresponsiveness. What would I do in a situation like this. My attorney even spoke with the officers manager and promised a response. Still no response…

  3. Nathaniel says:

    FOR ANYONE looking to help them self with a bad PO. My name is Nathaniel. I have a terrible PO. I am comming up months shy from my experation of felony probation for a BURG2 and completing my DV class and in patient and out patient rehab. Comming up in just weeks… My PO has decided that she would like me to attend another 6 months of rehab and possibly extend my probation… even though iv completed my classes, stayed clean, payed my fines and done polygraphs. The deal is. Yeah… I can take it to my attorney… But still yet. Anything I do that is not in total acceptance of what she wants always looks bad. Even though i know this isnt right. I have to deal with it. And comply until im off paper. Thats the only way we can be free. get on the grind. Always comply and one day. You will be free. You cannot fight this system… EVER. Not even with the most high paid attorneys. Iv tried. believe me. Stay strong people. Sober and always doing the right thing. And you will NEVER have to doubt your self or look behind your shoulder. EVER again.

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