Probation is a type of punishment in which a judge orders that a person be placed on community supervision for a set period of time. The order states certain things that the probationer is not allowed to do as well as setting requirements or tasks to be completed. the time period this lasts could be anywhere from 12 months to 20 years. It is possible to have this time period reduced or the probation period terminated early.
Williamson County, Texas is known for being hard on crime. The judges, county attorney and district attorney all campaign on a conservative, tough on crime pro-war on drugs platform. This causes problems for anyone who has been placed on probation, whether by plea agreement or conviction, who wants to end their probation period early. Despite this prevailing attitude it is possible to shorten the length of probation in Williamson County by following the guidelines set forth below.
The Texas Code of Criminal Procedure grants judges the authority to end probation before the entire probation period has ended. Article 42.12 Section 20 clearly states that the judge in the court that ordered the probation period has the discretion to grant motions for early termination of probation under certain circumstances. Nothing requires that the judge do so. The law is set up so that the judge has the authority to make the final decision. Generally the judges in Williamson County are slow to grant these types of motions.
The absolute first step, even before calling a lawyer is to determine if you are eligible for early termination of probation. Almost every offense in Texas is eligible for early termination of probation. The only offenses not eligible are those found under Texas Penal Code Sections 49.04 – 49.08, 3g offenses, and Sex Offender offenses.
If you feel that you qualify for early termination of probation your next step is to consult with an attorney. Williamson County is not set up to make early termination of probation easy. To succeed requires the agreement of a number of parties that you either don’t know well or due to being on probation may not have the best relationship with. They probably have no reason to trust you. That’s why you need a lawyer in Williamson County that has a relationship with everyone you need on your side. A qualified lawyer will know the best methods for convincing everyone necessary to help you.
From the very beginning of your probation period you should work with your probation officer to meet you goals. Make sure you are upfront with your probation officer by telling them that you want to do whatever is necessary to end your probation as quickly as possible. In Williamson County the probation officers are professionals. They are tough but fair. If you ask them what they think you should do to end your probation early they will tell you. You should do whatever they suggest unless they suggest giving up. As long as you qualify for early termination you should never give up trying. If they do give you a list of things to do you should move through the list as quickly as possible, with the best attitude possible even if what they are having you do seems pointless, repetitive or unnecessary. Sometimes the point is to see if you are willing to do something or are able to keep your life together long enough to accomplish a goal.
At a minimum you must complete at least 33 percent or 2 years of your probation time, whichever comes first. Once you have met the minimum time on probation you or your attorney can file a motion for early termination of probation.
Once your motion has been filed and served on the prosecutor you or your attorney must set and attend a hearing on your motion for early termination of probation. In Williamson County this is generally a full-blown hearing with witnesses and evidence presented, depending on what the judge wants. This hearing is the most important step because at this hearing the judge will determine whether to end your probation early or not. The judge will consider a number of factors including what your probation officer’s opinion. Is your probation officer recommends regarding early termination. The judge will give a lot of weight to what the probation officer says because he or she is probably the officer of the court that has spent the most time working with you and the judge assumes that the probation officer knows you and your history better than either the judge or the prosecutor.
Williamson County probation officers often choose to not take an official position when the court asks their opinion. Sometimes this is the same as agreeing to ending your probation early as the judge takes silence as agreement. If the probation officer tells the judge that the Williamson County Probation Office opposes your early termination the judge will tend to agree with them. The second most important opinion of the judge is the prosecutor’s. Williamson County judges are not rubber stamps for the prosecutors. The judges make up their own minds, but they respect the opinions of the prosecutors that serve in their courts day in and day out. They have generally worked with these prosecutors for some time and give their opinions a good deal of value. Applications to end probation early are not common in Williamson County.
Therefore it is highly likely that the judge will take the time to review your file. He or she may have questions for you and will probably make up his or her own mind. The judge will want to know how long you have been on probation. The more of your total time that you have done, the better your chances of early termination. This means that if you have completed three-quarters of your probation you are more likely to have it end early than if you have completed one half. The judge will also take into consideration how long your probation is. If your probation period is less than 18 months total it is highly unlikely that a Williamson County judge will end it early. How you handled yourself while on probation as reported to the court by your probation officer is also very important. The judge is interested in your attitude as well as whether or not you have completed all of the required classes, community service and drug tests. Most importantly the judge wants to know if you have paid all fines and court costs. In Williamson County no judge will end your probation before all required costs have been paid.
If the judge grants your request to end your probation early your application to terminate your probation early your lawyer will prepare an order that reflects the judge’s ruling and your probation will be over.