Under the provisions of Article 42.12 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, trial courts are given the authority to place a person on community supervision, also known as probation, in lieu of incarceration.
There are two types of community supervision commonly known as straight probation and deferred adjudication probation. The topic of this post is straight probation.
Article 42.12 §3(a) states:
A judge, in the best interest of justice, the public, and the defendant, after conviction or a plea of guilty or nolo contendere, may suspend the imposition of sentence and place the defendant on community supervision or impose a fine applicable to the offense and place the defendant on community supervision.
Article 42.12 §4(a) states:
A jury that imposes confinement as punishment for an offense may recommend to the judge that the judge suspend imposition of the sentence and place the defendant on community supervision. A judge shall suspend the imposition of sentence and place the defendant on community supervision if the jury makes that recommendation in the verdict.
These provisions apply when a person is convicted of a crime by a jury or by the court, or when a person enters a plea of guilty or nolo contendere.
Under straight probation, the person would be found guilty and therefore have a final conviction on his record. In a felony case, the person would be sentenced to a term of confinement in prison. However, imposition of sentence would be suspended and the person would be placed on community supervision for a certain period. In most felony cases, the maximum length of the probation period is ten years. While on probation, the person would be required to comply with certain terms and conditions.
If the person successfully completes the probation period, he would be discharged from probation and would never serve time in prison.
If it is believed that the person has violated a condition of probation, the State may file a motion to revoke community supervision. The court would then conduct a hearing to determine if the person in fact violated a condition of community supervision. If the court determines the person did violate a condition of probation, the court may revoke the community supervision and impose the original sentence.
The two most important points to remember about straight probation are: (1) the person avoids serving time in prison if he successfully completes the probation term; and (2) the person will have a final conviction on his record.