By Dallas and Collin County Criminal Defense Lawyer Jeremy Rosenthal
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.