Community supervision for criminal offenses in Texas takes two forms: straight probation and deferred adjudication. More than 380,000 adults are on probation in Texas. This article discusses early release from probation and deferred adjudication in Texas.
Ineligible for Early Release
For most offenses, early release from probation or deferred adjudication is possible. However, you will not be able to get early release from probation if you are on probation for a 3g offense, any intoxication-related offense, or any offense that requires registration as a sex offender. It is possible, however, for a judge to place you on pro forma, or non-reporting, status for intoxication-related offenses.
Early Release from Straight Probation
If you are on straight probation, you are eligible to petition the court for early release in most instances after you have served 1/3 of your probated sentence term or two years, whichever is less. See Code of Criminal Procedure 42A.701. This 1/3 time review is discretionary on the part of the judge. Most judges require that you complete 1/2 your term before they will give your petition serious consideration. A half-time review is mandatory if an application is made. That does not mean that the judge is obligated to approve the application for release. If the judge denies your application, the court is required to give you a list of conditions you need to meet in most cases.
If the judge discharges a probationer from straight probation, the judge may set aside the verdict and permit the probationer to withdraw his or her plea, dismissing the accusation and releasing the probationer from all penalties and disabilities resulting from the offense. This is known as judicial clemency. For example, if a felony conviction is set aside that offense cannot constitute the predicate conviction required to sustain a conviction for felon in possession of a firearm. For individuals interested in restoring their right to bear arms, this is a very valuable proposition. A trial court retains authority to grant judicial clemency for only 30 days after discharging a defendant from probation.
Early Release from Deferred Adjudication
If you are on deferred adjudication, you can petition the court for early release at any time. However, you are much more likely to have the court rule in your favor if you have completed a significant portion of your term of deferred adjudication.
Early release of deferred adjudication is governed by Code of Criminal Procedure Article 42A.111. It allows the judge to release individuals from deferred adjudication if the judge believes doing so would be in the best interest of society and the defendant. However, the statute specifically prohibits early release from any offense for which the accused is required to register as a sex offender.
Steps Before Applying for Early Release
Before you spend money on an attorney to petition the court for early release, make sure you have done the following:
- Complete all the court-ordered classes and conditions. If you have not completed all your conditions of probation, the court is not going to grant your request for early release.
- Make sure all your court courts, fines, and probation fees are paid up.
- If you have had violations or sanctions during your term, expect to need to more than the minimum term required before you can ask for early release.
- Maintain a good relationship with your probation officer. The court will check with the court probation officer who will ask your field probation officer how you have been doing on probation. The better your performance on probation and relationship with your probation officer, the more likely the judge will grant the petition for early release.
- Be prepared for a drug test. Don’t forget that the court will likely ask you to provide a clean drug test right before the hearing on the petition for early release.
- If you are released early from deferred adjudication or if you are granted judicial clemency, look into getting a Nondisclosure. This will keep the charge from appearing on your record with the exception of inquiries by law enforcement agents and state licensing agencies.
Interested in Early Release from Probation or Deferred Adjudication?
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