Of all the things we discuss on our website, this is likely the issue most often asked about and, once explained, the easiest to understand.
In Texas, when a person accepts a plea bargain or goes through a trial for a felony, the judge and/or jury have two choices (usually). That is whether to assess the sentence of
- Time to actually be served in prison, or
- Time to be served under the supervision of a probation officer but not actually incarcerated.
Occasionally, a judge will assess a certain amount of time to be served in the county jail as a “condition of probation” and after that time is served (as calculated by the jail) then they are released and start their probation.
Probation is when a person is not actually serving time in jail but has to agree to follow a very strict set of rules, which vary by judge, pay fees for the supervision, and usually report in to the probation officer periodically. While the probation department is a division of the state, it very much feels more local since the office will be local, the probation officers will be local, and the probationer will report to the local office.
The way most lawyers explain the conditions of probation is that the “probationer doesn’t do things they shouldn’t do anyway”. Probation will likely also include some type of classes, occasional drug testing, and home visits, whether scheduled or conducted as a surprise. The probationer will also be required to hold a job or at least apply for jobs, and also have a number of community service hours. This may include cleaning the roadsides under supervision, cleaning state or county offices, etc.
If a person fails to follow the conditions of probation, commits another crime, or in any way does something they are forbidden to do then the probation officer can ask the District Attorney to file a Motion to Revoke Probation and the judge can then, after a hearing, decide to continue the probation, amend the conditions, assess some additional jail time, or simply revoke the probation and send the person to prison.
Once a person is in prison and serving a sentence then there are two ways in which they are released. Either they do the entirety of their sentence, including both the actual time served plus the credit for any “good time” or they are granted parole and released from prison.
Parole is like probation in that once a person is granted parole, then they have to follow certain “Terms and Conditions of Parole” or their parole can be revoked, after a hearing, and they can be sent back to prison to either await another chance at parole or complete their sentence.
When a person becomes eligible for parole as discussed in detail in this article, one thing which an offender and their loved ones need to be aware of is that just because someone is eligible to apply for parole does not mean it will be granted. The granting of parole is entirely within the discretion of the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles.
The Texas parole process is discussed in our free eBook Understanding the Texas Parole Process but it only discusses the process and does not provide any information on preparing a Texas parole packet, how to increase the chances of parole, etc. Also, while you are allowed to download the free eBook and are given express permission to print it and send it to whoever you like, we do not print or ship the free book.
If you are looking for a proven method to increase the chances for parole as well as instructions, forms, and the tactics to prepare a Texas Parole Packet then you will need to consider retaining a parole attorney to assist you or order our book How to Prepare a Texas Parole Packet. We offer this book at varying prices and formats depending on your preference.
Our book can be purchased as an eBook or as a bundle which includes both the eBook and a printed copy through our publishing site at Rebellion Books. This option will allow the printed book to be mailed by us, as a publisher we are allowed to mail books into the prison system, to the offender in prison and for you to have the eBook. This allows both of you to use the same information and strategy to get the best result.
To understand the difference between probation and parole you only have to remember probation is only possible before someone is sentenced to actual prison time. After that, parole is the process whereby someone is released from actual incarceration.