federal courtroomThis is the next post in a series of articles discussing early termination of probation in Laredo, Texas. My previous post provided an overview of the topics to be discussed in this series. In addition, the article emphasized the importance of retaining knowledgeable defense counsel to assist you in requesting an early end to one’s probation sentence. This article will explain Texas’ laws relating to ending probationary periods earlier than originally scheduled. It will also provide information about who may be eligible to make such a request. If you need assistance contact my office today to speak to a lawyer.

There are two primary forms of probation in Texas. The first, known as “straight probation,” is an alternative to incarceration after a judge enters a guilty verdict for the defendant. This means that one has been convicted of a crime. If the person fails to meet the conditions of probation, the judge can revoke probation and require the defendant to serve their original sentence. Alternatively, a judge may choose not to enter a guilty plea and sentence the person to “deferred adjudication” probation, meaning that if the person completes their probation, the case against them is dismissed. Texas law authorizes judges to grant early release from both forms of probation under certain specific circumstances.

In either case, the probationer must meet certain eligibility and timing requirements. For straight probation sentences, one may seek early termination after completing one-third or two years of the probation period, whichever is less. A judge may, but is not required to, entertain the request at that time. If the request is made after the defendant serves one-half or two years of the sentence, whichever is longer, a judge must hear the request. There are no specific timing requirements for a petitioner seeking early termination of deferred adjudication probation. Judges in Texas will, however, follow certain minimum guidelines regarding the amount of time served. In addition to the timing requirements, the defendant must have met all conditions of the probation, including paying any restitution or other fees in full and completing all court-ordered counseling or treatment. If all conditions have been satisfied in the court’s sole discretion, the judge will determine if early termination is appropriate. Certain violent crimes, sex-related crimes, crimes involving children, and Driving While intoxicated are not eligible for early termination. A criminal defense attorney can help you understand if and when you may be eligible.

I cannot overemphasize the fact that the final decision whether to grant one’s request is in the complete discretion of the judge. This is true regardless of a person’s eligibility or other qualifying factors. Simply serving the designated portion of one’s term and complying with the conditions of supervision will not be enough. To increase one’s chances of success it is important to demonstrate that one’s behavior since the conviction justifies a modification of the court’s original sentence. For example, performing community service, completing one’s high school or college degree or other positive contributions to society may impact a judge’s review. An experienced criminal defense lawyer can help you present your case effectively to the court.

If you are on probation and have questions about the early termination process, my office is ready to assist you. Contact us today to speak with a Laredo criminal defense lawyer. My office also serves clients in other areas of south Texas.