Probation

What Should I Expect

When dismissal or some other form of alternative disposition is not available, one of the more common outcomes in Mr. Pham’s cases is probation. In most cases, probation occurs when a defendant is given a “suspended” sentence. That is, the sentence need not be served if probation is completed. Contrary to popular belief, probation is available for virtually every offense in Texas. However, with probation comes certain rights and responsibilities.

There are two types of probation in Houston: supervised and unsupervised. Generally, unsupervised probation occurs with first offender DWI, drug charges and other minor misdemeanors. After a plea of guilty to the charge, the judge will hand down a list of things to do and specifically what not to do. With drug and DWI charges, those most often will involve meeting with some form of addiction counselor and working out a plan of attack. The list may also include random drug and/or alcohol tests and some form of ignition lock system on a car. In other cases, particularly with assault and domestic violence, the judge may issue a “no contact” order, which directs the probationer to remain at a certain distance from another person.

Supervised probation is entirely different in Houston. More often than not, supervised probation is ordered for repeat offenders and for felony offenses. In those cases, the defendant is assigned a probation officer with whom he is to meet periodically. The probation officer will check on job status, administer drug tests and ensure that the probationer has not been arrested for any other offenses. On occasion, the probation officer may even come to his probationer’s home unannounced, just to be sure that he is living at his given address and is not doing anything prohibited. Supervised probation in felony cases can go on for years. However, if the probationer is compliant, usually the mandatory meetings become less frequent and less is asked of the probationer.

Should the probationer not perform as ordered, whether supervised or unsupervised, the probation can be revoked. For instance, should the probationer fail a drug test or have contact with someone he should not, a revocation is due. A probation revocation takes several steps, particularly in the case of supervised probation. There, the probation officer must file a report with the court and the prosecutor. The prosecutor will then ask the court to revoke the probation. If the court agrees, the probationer is ordered to serve his suspended sentence, either in whole or in part.

At all stages of the probation revocation process, everyone is entitled to be represented by an attorney. Often, Mr. Pham has cases where his clients’ probation has been due to be revoked, but in meeting with the probation officer and working out a plan, it was avoided. In short, never simply accept a Houston or Harris County probation revocation without speaking with a criminal defense attorney like Mr. Pham. There are almost always options because the courts and prosecutors would rather not send someone to jail if it can be avoided.

If you or a loved one is facing a probation revocation, and you want an experienced and aggressive criminal defense lawyer, contact Houston attorney Michael H. Pham at (713) 236-7791.

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