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Burden of Proof

The burden of proof for a probation or parole revocation is quite different than from a criminal trial, where the government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty. Proof beyond a reasonable doubt is the highest form of evidence required and a considerable burden placed on the government.

On the other hand, at a probation revocation the defendant will not have the benefit of a jury. Instead, a judge will make the decision of whether to revoke, continue or change the defendant's probation. More importantly, the burden on the government to prove that the defendant has violated  the terms and conditions of probation is far less difficult. The government must prove, by a preponderance of evidence, that the violations actually occurred.  By a preponderance essentially means that it is more likely than not, the defendant's conduct has violated the terms and conditions of his probation.  If the violations are purely technical, the financial inability to pay fees and other related probation costs may be a defense. Otherwise, it is generally very easy for the government to prove their allegations, given the low level or little amount of proof required. It is often times important to have witnesses available to testify in regard to the character of the defendant should the revocation hearing be contested.

At a parole revocation hearing,  the parolee does not have the benefit of a jury or judge. In fact, the parties making the recommendations regarding parole are frequently not even attorneys, but parole and/or hearing officers. Once again, the burden of proof on the government is quite low and if the hearing is going to be contested, it is often times important to have character witnesses available to testify on the parolee's behalf.

Finally, if someone is actually in  prison and becomes eligible for parole, it is very important to have a lawyer at the parole hearing to marshal evidence in front of the panel regarding the benefits of releasing the individual early on parole.

Attorney DAVID W. PHILLIPS and his staff will work tirelessly on these issues in an effort to maintain your probation or parole status and/or obtain your early release on parole from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.