What Happens If You Violate A Term Of Probation While On Deferred Adjudication In Texas?
If you are facing a serious criminal charge in Texas, deferred adjudication may offer you a way to avoid a trial and a potentially lengthy prison sentence. Deferred adjudication is actually a type of probation, or what is technically called “community supervision” in Texas. Basically, with a deferred adjudication the defendant agrees to plead guilty to the alleged offense, but the court “defers” a formal adjudication of guilt. The court then requires the defendant to serve a term of community supervision.
If the defendant completes probation and complies with all of the attached conditions, the court will dismiss the original charge. But if prosecutors believe that the defendant has violated any of the terms of probation, they can move to revoke community supervision and adjudicate guilt on the original charge. This means the court can send the defendant to prison, albeit for no more longer a period of time than is authorized by the relevant criminal statute.
Failure to Take Urine Test Leads to Jail Term in Drunk Driving Accident Case
It is important to emphasize that any violation of community supervision terms, no matter how insignificant, can lead to revocation and adjudication. A recent decision from the Texas 12th District Court of Appeals, Nolan v. State, offers a cautionary tale in this regard. This case also illustrates that even a guilty defendant has certain due process rights when it comes to sentencing.
The defendant in this case was charged with multiple felonies arising from a drunk driving accident. Specifically, a grand jury indicted the defendant for “accident involving serious bodily injury or death,” two counts of “accident involving injury,” and “intoxication assault with a vehicle causing serious bodily injury.” The prosecution and the defense reached a plea agreement. As relevant here, the trial court deferred adjudication on the three accident charges for a period of 10 years and imposed a suspended sentence of 10 years on the intoxication assault.
One of the conditions of the defendant’s community supervision stated that he had to submit to a urine test at his own expense “upon the request of your Supervision Officer.” Prosecutors later alleged the defendant failed to report and submit to such a requested urine test in November 2018 and again in August 2020. The defendant admitted the allegations were true but argued they were not sufficient grounds to revoke his probation. The trial court–and later the Fourth District–disagreed. The trial court ultimately adjudicated the defendant’s guilt on the accident charges.
The Fourth District did, however, disagree with the trial court’s sentencing. The judge sentenced the defendant to 10 years in prison. The appellate court said that was inappropriate for the accident cases. As noted above, the indictment charged the defendant with two counts of “accident causing injury.” Notably, these did not allege “serious” bodily injury. A sentence of 10 years is only permitted for an accident causing serious bodily injury. The maximum sentence for the defendant’s actual crimes on these counts was no more than 5 years. The defendant was therefore entitled to re-sentencing of those charges.
Contact Texas Criminal Defense Lawyer Keith B. French Today
Deferred adjudication and community supervision are not “get out of jail free” cards. But they can help keep you out of jail and potentially clear certain charges from your criminal record. If you need legal advice or representation from a qualified Pearland criminal defense attorney in these matters, contact Keith B. French Law, PLLC, today to schedule a free consultation.