Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Texas Probation Overhaul Bill: Big Changes?

Here are some of the features of SB1266, the probation reform bill
currently in the Senate and likely to be voted on soon:


Shortens the period of supervision for some (non 3g) offenses

Deletes minimum period of community supervision in felony cases

Deletes judge-authorized increases in the maximum period of
community supervision

State jail felons (other than drug offenders who get automatic
community supervision) can get community supervision from judge or
jury

Provides for automatic orders of nondisclosures for those who
successfully complete deferred adjudication

Removes requirement for sworn statements that the person has never
been convicted before in order to be eligible for probation.

Requires a judge in a felony case who imposes confinement as a
condition of community supervision to give the defendant credit on
the defendant's sentence in the same manner as if the defendant
served the term of confinement in TDCJ.

Authorizes the period of community supervision to be reduced or
terminated by the judge, at any time, after the defendant has
completed one-third of the original community supervision period or
two years of community supervision, whichever is less

Requires the judge to review the defendant's case for the purpose of
considering termination of community supervision, as soon as
practicable after a defendant has completed one-half of the original
community supervision period or two years, whichever is greater.

Prohibits a judge from refusing to terminate a period of community
supervision solely on the ground that the defendant is indigent and
unable to pay required restitution, fines, costs, or fees.

Requires, rather than authorizes, a judge to set aside the verdict
or permit the defendant to withdraw his plea, if the judge grants a
dismissal to the defendant, rather than discharges the defendant.

Authorizes the judge to discharge the defendant without permitting
the defendant to withdraw the defendant's plea and without setting
aside the judgment, if the judge terminates the period of community
supervision.

Requires the judge to grant the defendant a discharge subject to
enhancement, if the judge terminates the period of supervision after
determining, at a hearing at which the defendant is provided the
same due process rights as those provided at a revocation hearing,
that the defendant failed to comply with a significant condition of
community supervision, and as a result evidenced an intentional
effort to avoid rehabilitation.

Provides that failure to pay a fine, restitution, court cost, or
other fee does not constitute noncompliance with a significant
condition of community supervision unless the judge determines the
defendant was not indigent and intentionally refused to make the
payment.

Provides that a discharge subject to enhancement is a final
conviction for purposes of criminal enhancement.

Authorizes the judge in a felony case to extend a period of
community supervision under this section by imposing a maximum of
five one-year extensions for good cause. Prohibits the judge from
imposing more than one extension per hearing.

Authorizes the judge to extend the period of community supervision
in a misdemeanor case for any period the judge determines is
necessary, not to exceed an additional two years beyond the three-
year limit, if the defendant fails to pay a previously assessed
reimbursement for appointed counsel.

Authorizes the judge to grant a defendant credit on the sentence
imposed for all or part of the time the defendant was on community
supervision if the judge revokes community supervision solely on the
basis of an administrative violation of conditions of release.

Eliminates the due diligience defense in revocation hearings.

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