What Is A Probation Violation Hearing? Should I Request One?
Typically, especially here in Travis County, the judge will give you an option where they determine an outcome and let you know in advance if you agree to plead true to the allegation that you violated your probation. For example, if you are on probation for your first time DWI offense and you violated your probation by failing to report or by picking up a new offense, the judge will usually tell you that if you plead true to these violations they will revoke your probation and give you a sentence of X number of days, possibly 30 days or 60 days depending on other factors. At that point, you have the option to accept that determinate sentence or to contest the allegations and plead not true to the allegation that you violated your probation and demand a hearing. That hearing is just like a trial but it’s in front of a judge and you no longer have a right to a jury. The prosecutors will be trying to prove that you violated the terms of your probation, and they still have the burden of proof, so you are presumed not to have violated your probation, but unlike a criminal trial, they do not have to prove your violations beyond a reasonable doubt, and they only have to prove them by a preponderance of evidence, meaning that it is just more likely than not that you violated your probation.
The rules of evidence apply and you can call witnesses to testify on your own behalf. You can get on the witness stand and testify for yourself as well, or you can choose to remain silent and not say anything to incriminate yourself. It’s typical that the DA will threaten and if you go forward to a hearing and if you demand a hearing on your probation violations then they will demand a stricter sentence. Oftentimes judges will also make the same threat that if the allegations in the motion to revoke your probation are found true then they may give you a stiffer sentence than what they were originally offering. This is in order to incentivize you to try to work the case out and not waste the court’s time having a hearing if it’s not strictly necessary. The decision to request a hearing is not to be taken lightly as some judges have a long history of imposing longer sentences for probationers who demand a hearing as opposed to those who plead true and accept the determinate sentence.
Before making the decision to request a hearing, you should go over all the evidence with your attorney. You should understand that a motion to revoke your probation has been filed in your case, understand each and every allegation that has been made against you and understand that the evidence the DA has, has been provided to your defense attorney that will be presented as proof that you violated your probation and discuss any possible defenses that you may have to these allegations. This is all evidence that you should consult with your attorney about before you make a decision to go forward with your hearing.
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