Probation and Community Supervision in Texas

By Kara Carreras

In Texas, community supervision is the term we use for probation. If a judge or jury grants probation, (aka community supervision), the probationer will be ordered (by the judge) to abide by various types of conditions and restrictions. Some conditions of probation may include drug testing, drug/alcohol classes, AA, NA, outpatient or inpatient drug treatment, parenting classes. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but they are just some common conditions of probation. Most of the time a person’s conditions of probation depend on the results from a risk assessment performed by the probationer as well as the facts of the original offense. A probationer is required to report and Texas has two types of probation:

  1. Deferred Adjudication
  2. Straight Probation

In deferred adjudication cases, a person pleads guilty, however the judge does not actually find the person guilty. From there, the judge instead places the person on probation for a specified time, and if the person successfully completes their probation there would not be a final criminal conviction. In many cases a person can apply to have their records sealed once they successfully complete the deferred adjudication probation. You can NEVER receive deferred adjudication from a jury. This option is only available if you enter into a plea.

“Straight” probation, on the other hand, does result in a final criminal conviction—this is a key distinction between basic “community supervision” or probation and deferred adjudication. In this situation, a person pleads guilty and the judge enters a finding of guilt against the accused. Like deferred adjudication, the person would be required to complete the terms of their probation or face their probation being revoked and serving the sentence that was previously suspended.

“Deferred Adjudication”
  1. No finding of guilt
  2. If revoked, full range of punishment available to sentence probationer
  3. Early termination request can be made at any time
“Straight Probation”
  1. Guilty
  2. If revoked, jail or prison sentence limited to original plea
  3. Only eligible for early release after serving 33% or 50% of probation
Granting Judge-Ordered Community Supervision

Whether deferred adjudication or straight probation, the judge takes into consideration, factors such as what is in the best interest of justice, the defendant and the public.

It is important to know that a judge may not deny probation to a defendant based solely on the defendant’s inability to speak, read, write, hear, or understand English.

Limitations on Judge-Ordered Community Supervision

Now, let’s take a closer look at some of the conditions that must be met before a judge can order probation. First, a defendant is not eligible for probation if they are sentenced to a term of imprisonment that is more than 10 years.

Further, a judge may not order community supervision for the following offenses (see Texas Code of Criminal Procedure 42A.054 for exhaustive list):

  • Criminal Solicitation (First Degree)
  • Murder
  • Capital Murder
  • Aggravated Kidnapping
  • Trafficking of Persons
  • Indecency with a Child
  • Sexual Assault
  • Aggravated Sexual Assault
  • Injury to a Child, Elderly Individual, or Disabled Individual (First Degree)
  • Aggravated Robbery
Modifications to Community Supervision Conditions

Generally, only the judge may modify the conditions. The judge of the court having jurisdiction of the case may, at any time during the period of community supervision, modify the conditions of community supervision.

Simply because you are eligible for community supervision, does not guarantee you will get it. Most certainly you should be aware of what your options are if you are facing a probation revocation or if you are seeking early release from probation. You should consult with an attorney who will fiercely advocate for you. We have successfully defended contested probation revocations and we have obtained probation and early release in many difficult cases.