Interviewer: What kinds of offenses carry probation with them?
Gary Churak: Under Texas law you can get probation for every offense, either deferred or regular probation. There are some statutes where the court cannot grant you probation; they can only give you deferred adjudication probation. And that’s basically in a situation where you have either an aggravated offense or a deadly weapon count or a sex crime, usually a 3-d sex crime, where the court cannot grant probation.
Probation can only be granted from the jury and, of course, if you’re dealing with a child there’s limitations on the age of the child. For instance, in Texas if the child is under the age of 13, they cannot get probation from a jury, but they can only get deferred adjudication from a judge.
There are different complicated statutes on dealing with the probation side of it, but the for most part, all offenses can get probation in Texas, one way or another, either through the judge or the jury.
Interviewer: Are there different levels of community supervision?
Gary Churak: Well, it’s not different levels. There are different terms of probation. In other words, some are longer than others; some are more stringent and supervised more intense than others. It just depends on the nature of the offense and it’s based upon the nature of the offense.
A shoplifting case is going to be supervised at a different level than, say, an assault case or a robbery. The more serious the offense, basically what happens is the tougher the probation.
Interviewer: Will the terms of the probation always be the same in that instance? Will that person always have to report to a probation officer? Will they always have to be taking a drug test?
Gary Churak: No, not necessarily. Most probation conditions require that the person be subject to random drug testing, known as UAs. But it’s not necessarily a requirement of probation, but they may impose it. It depends on the offense.
If you’ve got a drug offense, you can be sure you’re going to be given regular UAs. If you’ve got a shoplifting case or a hot check case, chances are they’re not going to UA as often; they may UA you at one time on probation, they may never UA you ever. It just depends on the nature of the offense and who your probation officer is and factors like that.
Interviewer: What would warrant having an ankle monitor?
Gary Churak: Ankle monitors are unique situations and happen not as much in probation as it does on bond. The purpose is basically to keep an eye on the individual, especially on more serious offenses. You usually don’t see them on just straight probation situations.
Interviewer: So what kind of crime would one have to commit to get an ankle monitor?
Gary Churak: They would order ankle monitors for felony assaults, robberies, which are more serious crimes. I’ve seen them for lesser offenses too, but for the most part, it’s more or less violent crimes.