By Bo Kalabus
Collin County 24 Hour Jail Release 214-402-4364
Being on probation usually sounds good, especially if the alternative is jail. But is it? Probation is hard, and in my opinion probation can be very dangerous if the probationer is careless or has a lapse in judgment--we are all human and we all make mistakes. To survive on probation you have to be organized, disciplined, and have a little bit of luck. People do make it through probation, but for many the road through probation is hard.
Take this for example--let's say you ended up on DWI probation either through an agreed plea, or you lost your case at trial. The deal you ended up with was 120 days jail probated for 15 months. What this means is you have 15 months probation, but if you mess up on probation, the State will try to put you in jail for 120 days.
One of the conditions of your probation is no alcohol during the duration of probation. You've been good through the first 10 months of probation, but then you decide to go to a comedy club for your friend's birthday. You have a beer and think it's not a big deal, until a little pushing and shoving starts in the club on the way out. The bouncers break things up, but the police show up. You are a little punchy because you were shoved around in the altercation and say something smart to the police. The police are not amused because they are a little on edge themselves because they expect the place to erupt into riot mode at any minute. The police deal with you by arresting you for public intoxication.
Well guess what? You are now in deep trouble with your probation officer. As a condition of your probation, you had agreed to not commit crimes against the State of Texas. The public intoxication ticket violates that condition and since it alleges you were intoxicated this violates the no alcohol provision of your probation. And you can't hide--you have to report the arrest to your probation officer within 48 hours or you are in violation of yet another condition of your probation. In the blink of an eye you have thrown your first 10 months of being a good probationer in the trashcan.
What happens next? The probation officer will either call you in and tell you they are going to revoke your probation and ask for jail time, or they want to play lets make a deal. This is where things get really hairy and it goes like this--the probation officer will say in lieu of jail, they will graciously extend you probation 6 more months, have you do 24 hours more community service, and get you signed up to take an outpatient drug treatment program that you get to pay for yourself. You think, "Wow, what a guy" and take the deal by signing the paper. The probation officer then submits the new agreement to the judge for him to sign.
As a result, you have just added more stuff to do during your probation because you were afraid of going to jail and this is natural. But you may have just set yourself up to fail. What you need to keep in mind is the probation officer has no power to do anything but make recommendations to the judge. In some cases the probation officer will use the threat of jail to get you to agree to additional conditions that may be very difficult to complete and you may end up getting revoked anyway.
Remember, probation is tricky. You don't have to go it alone if you run into trouble along the way. Consult with a lawyer if you think you have violated your probation before you meet with your probation officer and sign away more of your rights.