Monday, April 26, 2010

A Probation Officer Can't Do That!

Of course, in Texas, we call our probation officers "Community Supervision Officers" and last week, the 2nd District Court of Appeals (Fort Worth) explained that community supervision officers CANNOT unilaterally modify the conditions of a person's community supervision (probation).

In Witkovsky v. State, the State tried to revoke appellant's community supervision for failure to complete a sex offender treatment program.  The problem with this was that appellant had already completed a treatment program as required by the Court.  The community supervision officer, however, was dissatisfied with appellant's "progress" as a reformed sex offender and unilaterally ordered that he attend a 2nd treatment program.  When appellant failed to complete the 2nd program, the State moved to revoke his community supervision.  Ala Lee Corso from College Gameday - "Not so fast my fiend" - the Court explained that under Aricle 42.12, Section 10(a) of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure:
only the judge may alter condiditions of community supervision.  Where there is no showing that the terms or conditions of community supervision were modified, a person's community supervision cannot be revoked for failure to meet the modified terms. 
There are exceptions, whereby a Community Supervision officer can modify the terms of the "community supervision by transferring the defendent to different programs within the community supervision continuum of programs," but that was not the case here where the officer tried to impose an additional treatment program on the defendant.