gavel with booksThis is the next post in a series of articles discussing early termination of probation in Austin, Texas. My previous post provided an overview of the topics to be reviewed throughout this series. It also stressed the importance of retaining an attorney to help you navigate the process. This article will explain Texas’ laws relating to ending “straight” probation sentences, as well as deferred adjudication probation periods, earlier than originally scheduled. It will also provide information about who may be eligible to make such a request. If you need assistance contact my office today to speak to a lawyer.

Under Texas law, judges are permitted, but not required, to grant early release from “straight” probation to eligible defendants under certain specific circumstances. A probationer may request early release from probation when a defendant has completed one-third or two years of the probation period, whichever is less. The law does not require the judge to entertain the request at that time, but rather gives them the discretion to decide for themselves. A judge must review an early termination request after the defendant has completed one-half or two years of the probation period, whichever is more. To be eligible for early release, the law also requires that all restitution and other fees have been paid in full and that the defendant has completed all court ordered counseling or treatment. If, in the court’s sole discretion, the defendant has satisfied all of the conditions of the probation, then the court may grant early termination. It is important to note that certain violent crimes, sex-related crimes and crimes involving children may not be eligible for early termination. Under current Texas law, a probation for Driving While Intoxicated also cannot be early-terminated.

While Texas law establishes the time frame under which judges are required to review an early termination request, it is important to understand that there is no requirement that any such request be granted. Regardless of a person’s eligibility or other qualifying factors, a judge can still require someone to fulfill the entire original probation term. Because judges have complete discretion in this decision, those who can show that their behavior since the conviction justifies changing the court’s original sentence will have a better chance for success. It is imperative to demonstrate at a minimum that a defendant has strictly complied with the court’s orders. An experienced criminal defense counsel can assist with properly presenting your case to the judge along with all possible information to support your request.

Please note that the rules related to when one may file a request for early termination apply to those sentenced with “straight” probation as opposed to deferred adjudication probation. There are no prescribed timeframes for requesting termination of a deferred adjudication probation, however, judges follow certain minimum guidelines in most cases. Contact my office for more information about deferred adjudication probation termination. One reason to try to seek early termination of a deferred adjudication probation is that the case is technically dismissed when the probation is ended, and the waiting period, if any, to file a motion to make the records non-public will begin to run sooner than if the probation is served in full.

If you are on probation and have questions about the early termination process, my office is ready to assist you. Contact us today to speak with an Austin criminal defense lawyer. My office also serves the cities of Rollingwood, Round Rock, Elgin, Jonestown, Manor, Bee Cave, Lago Vista, Sunset Valley, Lakeway, Creedmoor, Georgetown, Cedar Park, Leander, and San Marcos, Texas.