Articles Posted in Probation

It’s strange to talk about speedy “trials” in probation revocation cases, because a probation revocation hearing is nothing like a criminal jury trial. For example, in probation cases your only audience is the judge, you have no right to a jury, and the burden of proof is much lower to revoke (preponderance) than convict (beyond a reasonable doubt). Still, a person facing a motion revoke probation has a right to a speedy trial, or hearing. A recent case from the Dallas Court of Appeals addressed this issue. Today’s case of the day is

No. 05-13-00371-CR GEORGE GUO, Appellant v. THE STATE OF TEXAS, Appellee

So what happened to Mr. Guo?

My first job out of law school was as a public defender in Wichita Falls. Inmates often lack a technical understanding of the law, but they have a very pragmatic understanding of what it takes to get out now. I was asked often about 12.44(a) and (b) deals to help these indigent defendants get out of jail. Most people are not familiar with these provisions, but they are important to anyone considering a plea offer.

First, a drug war rant. Texas has some of the worst drug laws in the nation. We have a special state jail unit that was invented to warehouse small time (less than one gram) drug users. State jail has no parole possibility, so no one wants to go there, and it’s super expensive to warehouse them once they get there.

Guess what? Drugs won the drug war, and in spite of our state’s drug laws people still use meth and coke and heroin etc. So we have some laws in place to somewhat correct this horrible policy failure and provide a way to keep from sending even more people to state jail and wasting more tax dollars. 12.44(a) and (b) serve that purpose.

You know, I can be pretty hard of appellate decisions I don’t agree with. One of my main sources of blog inspiration is outrage at the loss of civil liberties through appellate decisions. It’s only fair that I point out when our State’s highest criminal court does something right, and today is that day.

Today’s case of the day is Leonard vs. State, the Sequel!

What happened?

Everyone on paper wants the same thing, to be off paper and done with probation. The best way to finish probation is to apply for judicial clemency under 42.12(20). This provision allows the judge to not only terminate your probation early, but to do so in a way that effectively dismisses the underlying charge (with a few exceptions).

What does a DWI defendant possibly have in common with a sex offender? Both are ineligible for early release under this provision.

ec. 20. (a) At any time, after the defendant has

Probation can be tough for a lot of reasons. From failing drug tests, to failing to report, to missing a meeting there are dozens of ways to get your probation revoked. It has come to my attention that the revocation process is not well understood by probationers. Let me hit a few high points.

No Juries

A probation revocation hearing is always in front of a judge. You have no right to a jury trial.

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