By Criminal Defense Lawyer Jeremy Rosenthal
Legally you could be revoked for showing up late to probation – but that’s obviously an extreme and unlikely scenario. There are countless variables which go into whether or not your probations revoked – so each case is truly unique.
Those variables can be things like the nature of the underlying offense? How severe is the new infraction? Have there been other infractions? Is the probation officer understanding about your situation? Are they lazy? Are they a jerk? Passive? Controlling? What does your county typically do with similar cases and infractions? The list goes on and on and on.
I get plenty of calls asking me this exact question… will I be revoked? I understand the anxiety and uncertainty of the position the probationer is in and I really do my best to try and handicap each situation. But each situation is very different. Here are some general guideposts, though:
Is the Probation Violation a New Offense or Crime?
If you’ve been arrested again for a new charge your probation officer probably doesn’t have much say in whether or not a motion to revoke or motion to adjudicate is filed. Those are likely to be dictated by office policy and your PO’s hands are usually tied.
If you do get arrested for something new – and you don’t get revoked – count yourself lucky.
Every probation plan or order I’ve ever seen requires a person to notify their officer upon a new arrest. So it’s normally a separate probation violation not to disclose it.
“Technical” Violations of Probation
We typically refer to issues such as failure to do community service or take classes as “technical” violations. Whether your probation is revoked based on a “technical” violation is up to your probation officer. Failure to pay fines and money fits into a bit of a different legal category – so I’m not including that here.
It really is impossible to quantify what each individual probation officer would do in any county in Texas in any given scenario. If you’re on probation for drugs or DWI and you’ve done 90 out of 100 hours of community service – I like your odds of not being revoked more than if you’re on probation for a violent crime and have done 0 out of 100 hours of community service.
I also like your odds of not being revoked on a “technical” violation more if you’ve never been in trouble with your PO before than if your PO has already given you 5 warnings about the same thing.
Positive Drug Tests
This is a very common trigger for a revocation or adjudication. My experience is it takes more than one – but this is an area where each county is different. The main reason a single positive UA probably won’t get you revoked is your PO has a lot of options at their disposal to remedy or punish short of full-blown revocation. It could include a jail sanction, additional classes, or even them asking you to extend your probation.
But Here’s What Experience Teaches Me — At Least in Collin County
It never hurts to be on your probation officer’s “nice” list and not “naughty” list.
Being a probation officer is a very tough job as much as I might criticize them. Most are over-worked and under paid. They are like you and I. I’m guessing it’s easy for them to deal with most people on their case load — and then they have some they deal with regularly who aren’t very pleasant to work with at all.
I don’t think many probation officers show up to work looking to screw people. The fact is they have enough headaches on their case load without inventing more.
*Jeremy Rosenthal is Board Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. He is a Texas Super Lawyer as designated by Thomson Reuters.