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HB 374 Establishes New Probation Policies

The Texas state legislature recently passed HB 374, which establishes new standards for individuals who are on probation following a conviction for a criminal offense. Probation departments must adopt policies for the scheduling of meetings or visits with individuals who are on probation. In scheduling these appointments, the departments now must consider the work, treatment, and community service schedules of those individuals who are on probation. Furthermore, probation departments now may allow individuals to report to their supervising probation officers via videoconference technology if they determine that in-person meetings or visits are unnecessary.

Legislators enacted this bill to remove some of the barriers that may prevent individuals from successfully completing their terms of probation. A missed visit or appointment with a probation officer could result in the revocation of probation. In turn, revocation often leads to incarceration, which is both more expensive for taxpayers and results in higher recidivism rates. By increasing the success of probationers, legislators hope to reduce revocation rates that lead to higher societal costs in terms of both incarceration and increased crime rates.

HB 374 Establishes New Probation Policies

Additionally, individuals who miss work, treatment sessions, or community service hours also are at risk of revocation, as completion of those activities often are conditions of their probation, as well. Aside from the financial costs of incarceration for society, revocation of probation also has additional costs for the community, in the form of families who experience significant strain due to loss of financial support, disruption of treatment and education, and loss of personal relationships due to incarceration.

Placing individuals on probation allows them to work, go to school, get substance abuse treatment, and perform community service, all of which are positive steps not only for those individuals, but for society in general. Rather than forcing individuals to choose between losing their jobs and facing a probation revocation due to a missed appointment, probation department now must be more flexible in scheduling appointments at times that better meet the needs of these individuals. When you are facing any criminal charges in the state of Texas, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney to represent your interests from the very beginning of your case. Contact Peek & Toland at (512) 474-4445 today and set up an appointment to speak with our legal team.

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