The director of the Brazos County Community Supervision and Corrections Department (Probation) [Brazos County Probation Officers] was kind enough to give local Bryan-College Station criminal defense lawyers some insight into the workings of the department and a motion to revoke last month. There were three main areas of interest to potential criminal defense clients. First, the director explained department policies regarding progressive sanctions for probation violations. Next, the department’s policy toward positive alcohol and drug tests was explained in detail. Finally, the director covered an issue of common interest to clients . . . the interstate transfer of probation supervision.
Brazos County policies on motion to revoke sanctions depend on whether a probationer was arrested for a new offense or simply violated “technical” conditions of probation (like dirty drug screens, failure to pay, failure to perform community service, etc.). If a person was arrested for a new felony offense, standard procedure is to file a motion to revoke probation (MTR). If currently on felony probation, this MTR will result in the person being held without bond pending the resolution of the MTR. If a person was arrested for a new misdemeanor charge, the MTR is often the sanction. However, sometimes the probation department choses to file a motion to modify probation conditions (MTM), in the alternative. Additionally, if a person has failed to report for 90 days (an absconder), a MTR will be filed. Lastly, if only technical violations are the problem, the probation department may seek only to modify probation (MTM), rather than revoke (MTR). With all this said, each case is decided upon its own merits.
Often persons on Brazos County probation run afoul of the rules by failing alcohol and drug screen tests. Again, this is considered a “technical” violation and may be solved with a variety of progressive sanctions. First, a positive test will result in a request for a written admission. Note that any statement a person makes to their PO can by used against them. However, sometimes the probation department looks more favorably upon a person who admits drug use, rather than hiding it. The purpose of the written admission is to save the department time by eliminating the need to send the sample off for confirmation. If a person lies about the suspected drug use and the sample is confirmed later by independent testing, the department will often recommend county jail time as a progressive sanction. If a person admits the drug use, the PO often orders a drug abuse evaluation and recommends new conditions based on the evaluation.
Lastly, the director explained the transfer of probation supervision between states is an administrative obstacle course. The transfer of probation supervision is governed by the Interstate Commission for Adult Offender Supervision (ICAOS). The ICAOS is charged with overseeing the day-to-day operations of the Interstate Compact for Adult Offender Supervision, a formal agreement between member states that seeks to promote public safety by systematically controlling the interstate movement of certain adult offenders. The process is complicated but can be streamlined by planning ahead and speaking with the probation department about potential transfer issues before they become a problem. The details of the Interstate Compact are beyond the scope of this article, but questions can be answered on a case-to-case basis.
Stephen Gustitis is a criminal defense lawyer in Bryan-College Station. He is Board Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. He is also a husband, father, and retired amateur bicycle racer.