STANDARD PROBATION CONDITIONS FOR WILLIAMSON COUNTY MISDEMEANORS
This information is being provided for the benefit of clients and potential clients who may be facing the possibility of probation. Probation conditions are fairly similar throughout the State of Texas since they are controlled by Texas statutes (Texas Code of Criminal Procedure Article 42.12, Section 11 et seq.). The statutes allow the sentencing judges to be somewhat creative to make the specific conditions of probation for a probationer fit the crime that he/she is going on probation for. Therefore, if you are facing probation, your specific requirements may vary somewhat from these general probation conditions.
The easiest way to understand conditions of probation is to look at them as a list of things that you MUST do and a list of things that you CANNOT do. It is important to understand that Williamson County is a tough county to get in trouble in. If you have been on probation before in another Texas county, you would do well to keep in mind that Williamson County will probably hold you to a higher standard of compliance to your probation conditions than the level of compliance you were held to in a different Texas county.
You will be given a written list of your conditions of probation at the time you are placed on probation. For misdemeanor cases, you will usually be placed on probation on the same day you enter a plea of guilty or no contest to the charges. In felony cases, a judge may hear the plea and reset the case for a later sentencing so that the probation department can interview you, drug test you, prepare a pre-sentence report, and advise the judge regarding any special probation conditions they think you should be subject to.
If there is a difference between these standard conditions of probation and what a judge or probation officer directs you to do, then obviously your specific conditions will take precedence over these general conditions. If you fail to comply with the requirements of your probation, a judge could revoke your probation and then send you to be locked up (in county jail or state jail or state prison) for all or part of the suspended sentence and/or make you pay all or part of a suspended fine and/or amend the conditions of probation and/or extend the term of probation beyond the original length of probation.
The following are Conditions of Probation that a Williamson County Court will typically impose if you are placed on misdemeanor probation (either a regular probation or a deferred adjudication). Additional conditions may be added depending upon the offense and the needs of each defendant.
A regular probation (also known as a formal probation) is when you have been found guilty of the original offense at your sentencing, but all or part of the fine and all or part of the jail time you were sentenced to is suspended (or probated) for a period of time, subject to you complying with your probation conditions.
A deferred adjudication is when you plead guilty or no contest to the original offense and the judge hears the evidence and finds that it substantiates your guilt. However, the judge finds that it is in society's interest and your interest to defer further proceedings without entering an adjudication of guilt and the judge places you on community supervision. This way, if you successfully finish the period of probation, then you can legally state that you were never convicted of the original offense. The fact that you were originally arrested and the fact that you served probation will remain on your record forever, but you can legally state that you were never convicted of the original offense. (In that case, you might be eligible for an order of non-disclosure that will make this criminal history a lot less public. Click on the link for more information about that.)
If you are placed on deferred adjudication, then it is possible for a judge to set aside the deferred adjudication and give you a conviction for the offense if you are later found to have failed to comply with the terms of your probation. If your probation officer believes you have failed to comply with your probation conditions, then he/she will bring that to the attention of the prosecutor, who may file a motion to revoke your probation. At that time an arrest warrant will be issued for you and you may or may not be able to get out of jail on a bond, depending upon the type of probation you are on.
If you are placed on probation for a felony, the basic felony conditions are fairly similar to the misdemeanor probation conditions that are described here.
1. Commit no offense against the laws ofTexas or any State or of the United States or any other Country. Defendant shallnotify the Community SupervisionOfficer in charge of the case within forty eight (48) hours of being arrested and/orcharged with a criminal offense. (Note from Ken Crain: about twenty years ago the State of Texas started using the fancy term of “Community Supervision” instead of “Probation.” It is really the same thing.) This means any violation of the law. Notify your Community Supervision Officer immediately upon being arrested, ticketed, or having any other type of contact with law enforcement. Criminal history checks will be done throughout the term of your supervision to see if you have "neglected" or "forgotten" to tell your probation officer about getting arrested for something else. (Note from Ken Crain: you have to tell them about traffic tickets you get while you are on probation, but it would be extremely rare for them to care much about routine traffic tickets. However, if you get a ticket for doing 100 mph in a school zone, they would definitely care about that. If you are placed on probation for reckless driving or a similar driving related offense, then they will care more about traffic violations than if you are placed on probation for a non-driving related offense.)
2. Avoid injurious or vicious habits; abstain from the use of alcoholic beverages; abstain from the use of narcotic or habit forming drugs without a doctor's prescription. While on community supervision, you may not drink any alcoholic beverages, or use any narcotic or habit-forming drugs. NO EXCEPTIONS. Inform your community supervision officer of any prescribed medications you may be taking. You will be required to submit urine samples to your supervision officer for any possible alcohol/chemical use. Positive results for alcohol or drug use is a violation of your conditions of supervision. (Note from Ken Crain: I recommend taking all of your prescription medications in the prescription containers with you on your first visit to your probation officer along with a typed up list of your prescription medications including the dosages, how often you take them, and what illness or medical condition (i.e. blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, etc.) they are prescribed for.)
3. Avoid persons or places of disreputable or harmful character; avoid places where narcotic or habit forming drugs are illegally possessed, sold, or used, and places where alcoholic beverages are possessed, sold, or used. You may not enter, even if not planning to drink alcohol, any bars, night clubs, pool halls, dance halls, or any other location where alcohol or illegal drugs are possessed, sold or used. You are also not allowed to be in the company of anyone who has been convicted of a felony, or with any co- defendants in your case. It is permissible to go to restaurants and businesses such as convenience stores, which serve or sell alcohol, but you are not allowed to purchase or consume alcohol. You are not allowed to be in the company of someone using or purchasing an alcoholic beverage. (Note from Ken Crain: The judge will probably make an exception if you are married to someone who has been convicted of a felony. Talk to your lawyer about that before you begin your probation. Likewise, the judge will probably make an exception if you work in a bar as a cocktail waitress or a bartender or a similar job.)
4. Report to the Community Supervision Officer on a monthly basis or as otherwise directed by the Supervising Officer in charge of the case. This is a minimum reporting schedule. Your Community Supervision Officer can have you report more often if necessary. If you are being supervised outside of Williamson County, you are required to report as directed by the Community Supervision Officer of the county/state to which your case is transferred, and send a Monthly Report Form to Williamson County before the 15th day of each month. (Note from Ken Crain: It is common for a probation officer to require you to report less frequently if you have been on probation for a while and you have not been having any problems.)
5. Permit the Community Supervision Officer to visit at the defendant's home or elsewhere. Your supervision officer will periodically visit you at your home or place of employment. These visits generally will be unannounced. The purpose of these visits is not only to confirm your residence and/or employment; but to also assist the supervision officer in knowing you better, to converse with you and your family in your own surroundings, and to discuss with you and your family any progress or problems. (Note from Ken Crain: Probation is not like having your own personal Marine Corps drill sergeant who follows you around every day the whole time you are on probation. Each probation officer supervises lots of probationers. They simply do not have the time to follow each and every one of their probationers around 24 hours a day. It will be rare for a probation officer to show up at your home or place of business, especially if you are not having any problems while you are on probation.)
6. Work faithfully at suitable employment as far as possible subject to the approval of the Court or the Community Supervision Officer in charge of the case. The Court requires all individuals on Community Supervision to be employed. If you are unemployed you must register with Texas Workforce Commission within 30 days and during all periods of unemployment. Changes in employment need to be reported to your supervision officer immediately. If you believe you have a valid reason for being unemployed, discuss this situation with your officer. If you are a full time student, you will need to document that with your probation officer. (Note from Ken Crain: If you are old enough and lucky enough to be retired, the probation department will be satisfied with that as long as you have the funds to pay them the money you owe them for fines, court costs, supervision fees, etc. If you are a housewife who does not work outside the home because you are raising children, ditto.) Occasionally the Courts or the Community Supervision Officer will not allow an offender to work in a particular occupation or location, or may require that the offender advise the employer of the fact that she/he is on supervision. This occurs primarily when an offender works at a job and is in a position to commit an offense similar to the one for which she/he is on supervision.
7. Not change employment or place of residence without the advance permission of the Community Supervision Officer.
8. Remain within the State of Texas, unless given permission to depart by the Community Supervision Officer in charge of the case; any absence of five days or more from defendant's current residence must be approved in advance by the supervising officer. You are allowed to travel anywhere in the State of Texas for up to five (5) days. If you will be traveling for longer than five days, or if you will be leaving the State of Texas or the United States for any amount of time, you must obtain permission and a travel permit from your Supervision Officer. If you travel without permission, you will be considered a fugitive and a warrant for your arrest may be issued. You must immediately report any change of residence to your Community Supervision Officer.
9. Support defendant's dependents. This includes paying Court-ordered child support and normal support for your family dependents. It is a violation of your probation conditions to be delinquent in Court-ordered child support payments. (Note from Ken Crain: occasionally I represent someone who has not paid child support regularly in the past or in the present. Let me know if that is the case so we can discuss how to handle this.)
10. Pay your fine and the costs of Court, in one or several sums, and make restitution or reparation in any sum the Court shall determine. This payment is Court-ordered; payments must be made by the fifteenth (15th) day of each month. (Note from Ken Crain: Restitution to the victim of the crime is almost certainly going to be ordered by the judge in order to try to make the victim whole. If the amount of the restitution is in doubt, then you need to make sure to get that figure nailed down before you go on probation. Also, if two or more defendants are charged with causing financial harm to a victim, the judge will order that each defendant will pay his/her fair share of the total restitution. However, you should be aware that the judge will order what is called "joint and several liability" for the restitution. That means that if one or more of the co-defendants fail to pay their fair share of the restitution for any reason, then the remaining co-defendants will have to pick up the slack and pay more so that the victim is made whole. This comes up when one of the co-defendants gets revoked while on probation and gets sent to jail or prison. It can also happen when a co-defendant disappears or dies before paying his/her fair share of the restitution. A probationer who has to pay more than his share of the restitution may not think that is fair to them, but the judge is far more interested in making the victim happy than in making you happy.)
11. Pay up to sixty dollars ($60.00) per month supervision fees to the Community Supervision and Corrections Department of Williamson County on the fifteenth (15th) day of the month following this order. Persons being placed on supervision are required to pay a monthly supervision fee for each month she/he is on supervision. A $2.00 transaction fee will be charged for every payment made. (Note from Ken Crain: this two dollar payment fee really rubs me the wrong way. No one else but the government could get away with this kind of nonsense. Also, they say that the supervision fees will be UP TO $60 per month. Unless you have some really severe financial issues and raise that issue at the time you are going on probation, the judge will almost certainly set the supervision fee at $60 per month.)
12. Submit urine, blood, breath, or saliva samples to the Community Supervision Officer in charge of their case at anytime requested, to be used for the detection of alcohol or drug usage. (Note from Ken Crain: you really should NOT go on probation unless you are willing to give up alcohol and/or use of ALL illegal drugs for the entire length of probation. I have represented folks before who really liked to smoke pot regularly, for instance, and could not imagine not smoking pot for one or two years. In that case, I recommend trying to get a plea bargain that involves a final conviction and some jail time and not even attempt to go on probation. If you accept a plea bargain that includes probation and then get caught using drugs, you will probably end up getting more jail time than if you just avoided probation up front and arranged for a shorter jail sentence and got it over with. Just my opinion.)
13. Provide verification of achieving an educational level equal to or greater than the sixth grade; work towards attaining a high school diploma or GED if recommended by the Community Supervision Officer in charge of the case. This department generally requires all persons on Community Supervision to work toward obtaining a high school diploma or a GED.
14. Obtain a Texas driver's license/ identification card within 60 days of this court order placing you on probation; the defendant shall not operate a motor vehicle without a valid Texas driver's license. Maintain auto liability insurance in at least the minimum amounts required by law and provide proof of such coverage to the Community Supervision Officer in charge of the case.
15. Submit a copy of defendant's fingerprints to the Williamson County Sheriff's Office
16. Pay all Court ordered monies in full and complete all programs, courses, community service restitution and additional conditions of supervision ninety (90) days prior to the termination of defendant's community supervision. (Note from Ken Crain: this way they have plenty of time to file a motion to revoke your probation before the end of your probation term if you fail to comply with all of the requirements.)
17. For driving while intoxicated first-time offenders: attend and successfully complete a certified course in traffic safety and alcohol education recommended by the Community Supervision Officer in charge of your case and approved by the agencies called for by law, and be responsible for the costs of the course. The defendant's driving privileges will be automatically suspended unless this course is completed within 180 days of sentencing date. This course is required of all persons who wish to retain their driver’s license after being convicted and placed on a term of supervision for a first offense DWI. You only have six (6) months to complete this course. Failure to attend and complete the course within the six month period will result in the loss of your driving privileges until you get off your butt and complete the course. It is your responsibility to schedule and complete the course. No time extensions will be given.
18. For driving while intoxicated subsequent offenders: attend and successfully complete a certified DWI Repeat Offenders Program recommended by the Community Supervision Officer in charge of your case and approved by the agencies called for by law, and be responsible for the costs of the course. This course is required of all subsequentDWI convictions. You must complete this course to reinstate your driving privileges. Even after the suspension time has elapsed, you cannot obtain a valid driver’s license until the course is completed. Failure to attend or complete the course will result in your driving privileges being revoked. It is your responsibility to schedule and complete the course. No time extensions or exceptions will be given.
19. Defendant shall have an Ignition Interlock System installed in any motor vehicle she/he operates, designed so that the vehicle cannot be operated if the defendant is under the influence of alcohol. The defendant is responsible for any costs of the system and its operation. The ignition interlock system is mandatory as a condition of your supervision if you are convicted of a subsequent DWI, or are under the age of 21 years of age and are convicted of a first or subsequent DWI. You are financially responsible for the cost of installation as well as the monthly rental fee. At the time of sentencing you to community supervision, the Judge will decide the deadline date for the ignition interlock system to be installed. After that date, it will be against the law for you to drive any vehicle that does not have this device installed in it. You will not be allowed to borrow someone else's car while this restriction applies. If you are self employed, the judge will order it to be installed on the company vehicle. If you work for someone else, the judge may allow you to drive your employer's vehicle(s) without the device, but may require that the employer be informed of the fact that you are on probation for a DWI.
20. Attend and participate in the Victim Impact Program on the date designated by the Community Supervision Officer in charge of the case and abide by all the rules and regulations of the program. This program is mandatory for all DWI supervision terms and for supervision terms on any other alcohol or drug-related offense.
21. Community Service Restitution: The Courts require all persons placed on community supervision to work a set number of community service hours. Community Service Restitution (CSR) is volunteer work performed at a non-profit organization or charity. The location and type of work performed must be approved by the supervising officer in advance. They will generally provide you with a list of approved locations where people regularly perform community service. The Judge will order the amount of hours to be worked and the minimum numbers of hours to be worked each month. You must provide written verification to your supervision officer of the number of hours worked. (Note from Ken Crain: You can be sentenced up to 200 hours of community service for a class A misdemeanor and up to 100 hours for a class B misdemeanor. Generally you should complete around 8 hours a month so that you do not have to do all of it at one time.)
22, Defendant shall submit to a search of his/her person, property, place of residence, vehicle, and personal effects by any probation officer or law enforcement officer at any time, with or without a warrant and with or without reasonable suspicion or probable cause.
23. Carry Defendant's Williamson County Adult Probation Identification Card on Defendant's person at all times. If a law enforcement officer requests proof of identification, Defendant must show the officer this probation ID card along with a driver's license or Texas ID card. If the card is lost, Defendant shall report the loss and shall pay $5.00 for a replacement card.
There are many other conditions which may be added to your supervision depending on the type of offense, your prior criminal record, etc. Some of these additional conditions may include, but are not limited to: attending Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous meetings, alcohol or drug education programs, assault prevention programs, hot check writing courses, mental health counseling, in- or out-patient alcohol/chemical dependency treatment programs. You are responsible for completing all Court- ordered conditions. You are also responsible for the costs of these programs. Payment in full for all services/programs is required before the condition of supervision is considered complete.
If you are found to be using alcohol or other drugs while on supervision, you may be subject to have your conditions amended to include additional alcohol/drug education and/or treatment, or have the case revoked.
(Note from Ken Crain: You should keep a file of all paperwork related to your probation. Keep copies of everything you give to your probation officer and copies of all money orders that you mail in for payments. Occasionally the probation office loses things, and if they do you will want to have another copy readily available to prove you already did something or already paid the money they say you owe them.)
If you or someone you know is on probation and would like to explore the possibility of asking for an early termination of their probation, call Ken Crain to discuss requesting an early termination. If you or someone you know is on probation and is accused of failing to comply with their probation conditions, call Ken Crain at 512-869-0131 to see if I can help.