How to End Probation Early in Texas

Two Methods:Preparing for Early TerminationUnderstanding the Considerations in a Hearing for Early Termination

In Texas, a judge may end a party’s probation period early in some situations. Article 42.12, Section 20 of the Code of Criminal Procedure gives judges discretion to grant motions for early termination of probation. The decision is entirely up to the judge, and there is no requirement that a judge grant a motion to end probation early. However, there are some steps you can take present your case more favorably in order to obtain early termination of your probation in Texas.

Method 1
Preparing for Early Termination

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    Do enough time in prison. Before you can get an early termination of your probation, you need to see if you are eligible for that option. In order to be eligible for early termination, you must have completed either 33% or 2 years of probation, whichever is shorter.
    • For example, if your total probation period was 10 years, you could apply for a reduction in 2 years, because 33% of completion would be in 3.3 years.
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    Examine your offenses. In Texas, most offenses qualify for a reduction in probation. However, there are certain offenses that lead to probation are not eligible for a reduction in probation time. There is no way for you to reduce your probation period if you are on probation for any offense that requires registration as a sex offender, murder, capital murder, indecency with a child, aggravated kidnapping, aggravated assault, or aggravated robbery.
    • You also cannot get shortened probation if you were convicted of driving while intoxicated, driving while intoxicated with a child passenger, flying a plane while intoxicated, boating while intoxicated, assembling or operating an amusement park ride while intoxicated, intoxication assault, or intoxication manslaughter.[1][2]
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    Work with your probation officer. Your probation officer can help you achieve your goal of early termination. Have an honest conversation with your probation officer. Tell your probation officer politely upfront that you want to do whatever is necessary to end your probation as quickly as possible. Ask him what he thinks you should do to achieve that goal and then do what he suggest.
    • Make sure you are up to date on any restitution payments or other court ordered fees. This will help you look better in the eyes of the court and show you probation officer that you deserve to be let off early.[3]
    • Before your hearing, it is likely that your probation officer will want to interview you to fully understand where you are in your rehabilitation. Make sure you do not lie to him. Tell him everything in your history that might come up at the hearing.
    • You want to show how much you have changed and how remorseful you are about your crime. Show your probation officer that you have learned from your past and are a better person now. Don't lay it on thick, however. Just be honest with how far you have come as a person since your arrest.[4]
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    Consult an attorney. Texas is known for being tough on crime, and many judges do not easily terminate someone’s probation early. However, having an attorney can greatly increase your chances of getting your probation reduced. A local criminal defense attorney will have relationships with the judges, and will know the best way to present your case to them.
    • Additionally, an attorney can make sure that anything submitted to the court on your behalf complies with state procedure.
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    File a motion to terminate. If you have an attorney, ask your attorney to file a motion to terminate your probation. There is no form for this motion, but your attorney will know the information that should be included. If you do not have an attorney, you can ask your probation officer to send your file back to the judge for an early termination hearing.
    • Once the judge has seen your file and verified that you are eligible for early termination, you will be contacted to schedule a hearing.

Method 2
Understanding the Considerations in a Hearing for Early Termination

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    Know the judge's role. The decision to terminate your probation lies in the hands of the judge. At this hearing, the judge will determine whether to grant your motion or not based on the evidence and testimony given to him.
    • There will be a prosecutor at your hearing because the judge is required to inform her that a hearing is being held for your case.[5]
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    Hear the probation officer's opinion. At the hearing, the judge will consider your probation officer’s opinion. His opinion is a very important opinion because he spends the most time with you and knows more about your particular case than anyone. The major consideration the judge will look for is your probation officer's recommendation for early termination. If he does, that will weigh heavily in your favor.
    • If the probation officer is actively opposing early termination the judge is very unlikely to disagree with them.[6]
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    Listen to the prosecutor’s opinion. The prosecutor has the option of being at the hearing, and can object to early termination of your probation. It is uncommon for the probation officer and the prosecutor to disagree on these matters but it does happen.
    • The judge reviews your case, but he likely doesn't know every detail. To get the fullest picture possible of your case, he listens to the probation officer and prosecutor's statements and recommendations that are given based on their superior knowledge of your circumstances and case.[7]
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    Think about your performance review. The judge will consider your performance while you have been on probation. This is reported to the court by your probation officer. The judge will want to know if you passed all of your drug tests, completed all classes in a timely manner, and did your community service.
    • Other factors that might be included in this category are attitude and cooperation with your probation officer.[8]
    • This also includes your previous criminal history. Judges are less likely to order early termination for you if you are a repeat offender.[9]
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    Examine your probation compliance. The judge will review is you have stayed in compliance with the probation sentence. He wants to make sure that you have been following the letter of the law up to this point. He will consider if you have made all payments required under your probation sentence. This includes fines, fees, court costs, and penalties.
    • If you haven’t made all necessary payments, the judge will not grant your motion. Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, Article 42.12 Section 20(b)</ref>
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    Reapply if necessary. If the judge denies your request for early termination, he is required to give a written statement as to why you were denied. He will also tell you what you can do to terminate the probation. You should comply with the judges instructions, and then apply to terminate your probation again.
    • You should only do this if you have done what that judge has asked you to do. Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, Article 42.12 Section 20(b)

Sources and Citations

  1. Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, Article 42.12 Section 20(b)
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Article Info

Categories: Criminal and Penal Law Procedure