The Judge Showed Mercy

Placing a defendant on probation or deferred adjudication probation happens all the time.  However, when a defendant who is already on probation or deferred adjudication probation picks up a new charge, the likelihood of the defendant being placed back on probation is slim to none.  This is the challenge that I dealt with last week. 

My client was previously placed on deferred adjudication probation for a prior Theft charge.  He then picked up a new charge of Burglary of a Motor Vehicle (BMV); thus, in addition to his new charge, a Motion to Adjudicate Guilt (MAJ) was filed against my client.  His guilt or innocence of the BMV charge was not an issue – he was guilty.  Needless to say, he violated his deferred adjudication, in addition to other violations.

The Harris County Assistant District Attorney handling the case wanted my client in jail for 200 days and the probation officer recommended jail.  I informed my client we could approach the Judge without a recommendation and let the Judge determine my client’s punishment.  The latter strategy was not an easy decision to make, because the Judge could place my client on probation or in jail for up to 360 days.  Not knowing what the Judge was going to do was unnerving to my client and his family.  However, the 200 days in jail offer (he would have only needed to spend 100 days in jail) was not an offer my client wanted to accept.  We decided to roll the dice and take a risk with the Judge after deliberation.

My challenge was that I had to come up with a way to present to the Judge that my client was worthy of being placed back on probation despite the fact that he was already on probation when he picked up a new BMV charge.  In addition to this violation, he had “dirty” drug test results, and has not been up to date with his fees.   I also had to ask the Judge to place my client on probation for the BMV charge.  Thus, I was asking for my client to have two probations run concurrently to avoid jail time.  What I was asking for rarely happened.

After extensively talking to my client and his mother about my client’s past, present and future plans, I had my client undergo drug and psychological evaluation, which provided an insight to the real issues behind the Theft and BMV charges:  my client had a drug problem and was diagnosed bi-polar, in addition to other issues (i.e., young age, peer pressure, unavailable father figure).  I asked my client go through an out of patient rehabilitation facility, which consisted of counseling and medication for his bi-polar disorder.  I also asked my client to provide me with letters of recommendation, his apology letter directed to the Judge, and other documents which I felt were helpful to convincing the Judge that alternatives to incarceration were more beneficial for my client and the society.  During the hearing, I presented a packet and witnesses testified about my clients overall character despite his wrong decisions.  My client’s mother also testified to her ailing health.

The Judge sentenced my client to two years probation to run concurrently for both charges and wisely placed my client on a special case load due to the bi-polar diagnosis.  The Judge showed him mercy, to which we are very thankful. I can only hope and pray that my client takes the blessing that was given to him  and puts it to good use.  I have high hopes that with the help my client is currently receiving, he will be able to successfully complete probation.

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