Interviewer: What are some of the misconceptions that people have about probation?
Gary Churak: That it’s easy; it’s a walk in the park. It’s a slap on the wrist and that you “get away with it,” because you got probation. Some probation conditions are very difficult; some are not. It just depends on the nature of the crime.
If you’re a convicted sex offender and you get put on probation—in my opinion, sex offender probation is designed to fail. You have to go to sex counseling sessions; you have to be limited to where you can be, who you can be around. They limit your access to computers. There are just all kinds of regulations they put on you that make it very difficult to complete that type of probation.
So I think that’s the misconception, that if you get put on probation, you beat the system, and you somehow or another came away ahead of the game. And like I said, that’s not necessarily true. It happens occasionally on serious offenses sometimes; some people do get probation and they slide through and get it done and it’s not that difficult for them to complete probation.
But it just depends on the judge; it depends on the court system and the probation officer, how difficult probation is and how much they push you on it. There are a lot of factors involved.
Interviewer: So what are the more common ways that you’ve seen people violate the probation?
Gary Churak: They pick up a new crime.They fail to report to the probation officer once a month. They fail a UA or drug test. They do not do their community service and pay their fines and court costs.
Interviewer: How are the fines and other costs determined?
Gary Churak: It also depends on the offense, for the most part. Certain offenses in Texas have fines up to $10,000. The lowest level would be for a misdemeanor. A class-B misdemeanor is a fine up to $2,000. A class-A misdemeanor would be $4,000.
Then you get up into the felony levels, which can be $10, 000 to $20,000 fines. Usually don’t see fines that high, but there are situations where your fines can be a thousand dollars, plus court costs. When you have $1500 you have to pay in fines and courts costs, they usually let you pay that out through the term of your probation.