Texas probationers are sometimes told by the lawyer representing them on an original charge, “Don’t worry about how long this probation is, you can apply for early release”. (I know this, because I’ve heard it from so many folks, it’s apparently a common thing some lawyers tell their clients.)

Now, it’s true that you can apply for early release as soon as one third of your probation period is up. The statute covering early discharge itself (Article 42.12 Section 20 Code of Criminal Procedure, “Reduction or Termination of Community Supervision”) is contained within the lengthy probation statute.

The question most probationers want to know, however, is “Will the judge in my case let me off early, and if so, when?”, or “What do I need to do to actually be discharged from probation?”

Despite some potentially confusing language in the statute, let’s start with this: early release from probation is entirely discretionary, not mandatory. There’s no way to force the judge to grant an early discharge.  Even if you have completed all the terms, if the judge doesn’t want to let you out of the probation term, you’ll have to finish it.

Second, while the law allows for petitioning the court for release 1/3rd of the way through, most judges won’t grant a discharge that early. In Travis County, I’d ballpark the necessary length at somewhere between half and two thirds of the original probation term imposed before most judges will seriously consider letting you off early. Many times you hear a judge ask “You signed up for this long of a probation when you plead guilty. Why should I let you off without you completing your end of the bargain?”

Third, all conditions of probation (other than the length) must have been met: community service hours completed, classes finished, AA’s attended, monies paid, etc. As far as fees, fines, restitution and court costs goes, the only possible exception to that is some judges don’t require you to pay out the $62/month probation fees into the future. Then again, some do.

Finally, convictions for DWI, Sex Offenses, and State Jail Felonies are not eligible for early release.

No one should make a decision to accept a plea bargain in a case, on the basis of believing that they can automatically be granted an early release at some future time during the probationary period. Of course, it may be that X years of probation is truly the best deal that they can get, given the facts and circumstances of their case.

  • CHELA

    QUESTION:

    DO CERTAIN CHARGES NOT QUALIFY FOR EARLY RELEASE OF THE PARTICIPANTS OF THE BEXAR COUNTY FELONY DRUG COURT IF SO WHICH…..KEEP IN MIND FELONY DRUG COURT UNDER JUDGE ERNIE GLENN

  • Gary

    I am looking for the form to submit to the Texas Courts for early release.

    I’ve completed all requirements but time (even offered to pay remainder of fees of probation) but was told that it had to be filed by an attorney.

    Why cant I get the form and file it with the court system myself.

  • Matt

    I am on probation for DWI 2 with child endangerment. I went through the SAFP program through TDCJ and have completed 2 years of my 4 year sentence. My probation officer tells me that my probation is deffered. When i was sentenced back in 05′ my lawyer told me that they made a mistake and put me on deffered probation. Now here I am at half my time with all of my fines, community service, and classes current. What are my chances of getting off, and what do i need to do?

  • Chris Pelfrey

    How do you apply for early release for probation?

  • Amanda Vincik

    My boyfriend recently got sentenced for a probation violation, he is now “waiting for bed to open” in the Travis County jail, is there a way to get him in quicker than the norm, or if not, is there a way to get him out in the meantime because he has a job, and he turned himself in, and informed his probation officier of his violation when it happened. He has shown that he wants to get this taken care of, he has already been in jail for a month waiting to get to court and now they tell him he has to wait for a bed to open.

  • Jessica

    I have the same question as :
    Gary – January 15, 2008 11:03 PM
    I am looking for the form to submit to the Texas Courts for early release.

    I’ve completed all requirements but time (even offered to pay remainder of fees of probation) but was told that it had to be filed by an attorney.

    Why cant I get the form and file it with the court system myself.

  • jessica

    How do you apply for early release for probation?

    was told that it had to be filed by an attorney.

    Where can I get the form from, I have written the judge a letter but was told i had to file a legal form.

  • ROBERT HALL

    I have been found guilty for assult wa motor vehicle and sentance to 5yrs deferd probation which i have now served more then 1/3rd of my sentance and completed all tasks required and fees owed. My Probation Officer tells me since i have finished I qualifiy for early reselease however its now been 2 months and she has not made an effort to take me off her office is a mess wcase folder stacked on the floor she lacks to be organized what should i do in this situation?

  • Grenisha Hurndon

    I am currently on 5 year probation for Credit Card Abuse. I have finished all my community service, and I am current on fines and fees. However, I have some late reports. Will this pervent me from filing and getting early release

  • James Shelton

    I have been on probation for 2 of 6 yrs.I have gone thru treatment(90day),multiple offender school,even tho I’m not one,alcohol counseling,2 yrsAA,160hrs community service,and still I’m told no.Am I not approaching this right?Please let me know.

  • Les

    What is the title/number of the form for application to the court for early termination of a probated term? Where can this form be obtained? Who can file the form?

  • Andrew

    I have been on probation 1 yr of my 3 year term. I am working on finishing all my fines and fees. I am on charges of felony burglary, was released from jail on my own recognizance. This all happened in Illinois, I got my case transferred to Williamson County shortly after i was sentenced. How do i go about applying for early release or even Unsupervised Probation? Do i have to go back to Illinois to do so? Do i ask my PO? I have not faltered on anything in my probation order.

  • Azim

    I was charged with possession of controlled substance 2nd degree felony. I almost done with 1/3 of my time and all fees paid. I need to know if fort bend county in sugar land will grant me this early release in my case. I hear most judges in fort bend will make you wait until half 1/2 of your time is done to grant early release. Is that true?

    Thank You.

  • buddy

    can you work in a night club if on probation in texas.

  • Karen
  • JOHN

    I have this young Vietnamese guy who confessed to fondling a 13 year when he was 18. He did not go to jail but told to go and finish school and given a 10 year probation. (has completed 6 years)
    Done everything he is supposed to do.
    He is now 25 and completing his master in technological engineering (in August). The University offered him a job, as he is really smart (5th in class and a grade A student)
    But on checking his record they found him to be on probation, so they with drew and is now on hold.
    Is it possible that he can get a early release from probation. He is not a addicted sex offender, just someone who at 4 months into his 18th birthday made a very costly and stupid mistake. Surely there must be some way he can be given a chance. The object for me would be to restore him back to society where he would be a valuable contribution. All his friends have gone to NASA. It would be a terrible shame not to give him a chance to prove himself.
    Sincerely

  • John

    My question is this:

    What are my chances of getting off early if I am 3/4 or more of the way through with time, my monies are almost paid, but my community service is not really that close to being completed (about 450 hrs left). I am in Texas and my wife is stationed in Montana with the military. Can probation legally keep us apart? What if she gets deployed? Please help me find out the quickest way up there.

    Thank You.

  • Kevin

    I am about to start 3 years probation for evading police in a motor vehicle. With a felony like this am I eligible for early release from probation? I am in college, and this fiasco is killing my GPA. I have a job on the side, but I don’t make enough money to live and pay all of the costs required for my probation. What do I need to do to try to get an early release? The crime occurred in McLennan county. I am appreciative of any help I can get.

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  • jaylynch

    I too am a fellow probationer. I have one year left on a 5 year sentence. As of today all my money is paid but $79. My PO suggested that I submit a letter to the judge on the day I make my final payment. He told me up till 6 months ago he could go to the judge for me but the county I am in changed that. To all who are on here TALK to your Po most are more than willing to help you. And if John reads thisif you can’t get a release ask for a change of venue. They can transfer your probation to where ever your wife is. You will just have to send your money back to Texas.

  • mike

    i have been on probation for 3 years 6 months of a 5 year sentence,everything is paid all i do is report once a month,can i be released from probation

  • David Linderman

    Where do I get the form to appeal for an early release of deferred adjudication probation? I’m on a very low fixed income disability through the VA and can not afford a lawyer.

  • Tired of being BSed

    I see a lot of questsions being asked. But I don’t see any ansers being given. WTF!

  • Danielle Flores

    Could I stand in for myself and not have a lawyer in front of the judge? My lawyer is asking for more money because my request for early release is a new case.

  • Julian

    I was convicted of burg of habitation 2nd degree felony and burg of vehicle (misd.) I was sentenced 6 years deferred running concurrent, I have completed a year of my probation and asked my officer the possibilities of getting off early in the future so I can save for a lawyer and get things straight before the time comes. Comunity service, fines, fees, and resitution for both cases will be caught up by 2 more years (1/2 of my original sentence) first question is my case eligible for 1.) early release 2.) expun. Also I have heard from many different people about unsupervised probation, what is this? My next question, in my terms it says I have to stay within the state of Texas. I have a aunt in new York who is 81 has breast cancer for the second time and chnces are slim she is going to have the strength to make it this time. Is there a way I can leave to see her before the worst was to happen? And last of all is it easy to transfer? I live in san Angelo and wanted to move to Austin for school, would this be possible? Thanks a whole bunch.

  • kathleen

    I am on 2 yrs. deferred ajudification probation for a Class A misdemaenor forgery case. I have done 1 yr. of it and completed all community service ,paid all court and probation fines. How do I get an early release and get it expunged from my record?

  • kathleen

    I am on 2 yrs. deferred ajudification probation for a Class A misdemaenor forgery case. I have done 1 yr. of it and completed all community service ,paid all court and probation fines. How do I get an early release and get it expunged from my record? How much do attorneys usually charge for this?

  • Larry

    Here is a website that I found with an early release form that an attorney would submit to the courts for early release. Just fill in the blanks.

  • Vikki

    My boyfriend is in Bell County Jail. We are waiting for his sentencing trial which will be in June. He received a probaion packet in the mail. Does this mean he will be getting probation? This is his first offense. He is doing the sentencing by the judge since he was told by his lawyer not to take the sentencing by the jury. I’ve been asking around and i was told that come june he will be on probation i just want to make sure i am getting the correct info.

  • De De

    I am on 12 months deferred ajudification probation in Bell County for a Class A misdemaenor unlawful carry of a concealed handgun. I have done 5 months of it and completed all community service, classes, paid all court and probation fines. How do I get an early release and get it expunged from my record? How much do attorneys usually charge for this?

  • BD

    I am currently on drug court in west texas for a DWI that i got in 2009. I am now nine months into the program and have not run into one bump. Everything so far has been done that was required by the court program. I have been with my company for 2+ years and was offerd a position with my current employer in a new state with more pay. I asked for early relase and was told no. What options do i have?

  • DANNY ZUNIGA

    Can your Probation officer deny you early release if the victim can’t be found? I am up for early release since April 2013..My P.O. tells me a decision has not been made due to fact the victim has not been found.

  • Shannon

    I have been on deferred felony probation since 2011. I was scheduled to be off in 2019, but have just paid all my community service hours, all my court fees, and restitution completely off. I was told that it was going to cost me ANOTHER $750 to hire the same attorney, to get me off early. Is there a motion I can file on my own? If so, what forms do I need?