Set Up to Fail? Probation for Sex Criminals
SAN ANGELO, TX — On Wednesday, June 5, 2019, 55 individuals were in the Tom Green County Courthouse for hearings in which the District Attorney’s office had filed a motion to revoke his or her probation.
Some of those individuals were on probation or deferred adjudication for sexual assault of a child or possession of child pornography charges. The conditions of probation or deferred adjudication for those types of crimes is intense often requiring sex offenders to attend twice weekly sex offender classes and pass polygraph tests on a regular basis as well as conditions requiring they stay away from children and the internet. Standard probation requirements include paying a $60 probation fee each month and regular unannounced visits from probation officers. Fines and fees for probationers can exceed $200 per month for years.
Many sex offenders do not successfully complete probation and find themselves back in court facing a motion to revoke probation hearing because they can’t afford the fees or they miss a required class or the commit another crime.
We reported on two convicted sex offenders this week. Dave Cardenas pleaded guilty to one count of possession of prepubescent child pornography in federal court and was sentenced to ten years in prison followed by ten years probation. Corby Chitsey pleaded guilty to one count of possession of child pornography in state court and was sentenced to 90 days in jail then seven years probation.
District Judge Jay Weatherby often tells defendants that probation isn’t easy or cheap. The court has the authority to revoke a convict’s probation and has the full range of punishment available if the person violates probation. For example, Chitsey was convicted of a third degree felony possession of child pornography which has a punishment range of two to ten years in prison. A convict in Chitsey’s position could be facing ten years in prison if he violates his deferred adjudication probation in any way. Judge Weatherby tells defendants that even if they have served six years and 364 days, that is if they have only one day left on probation and violate, they can be sentenced to the maximum prison term.
Cardenas was sentenced to ten years in federal prison. In the federal system, convicts are given 15 percent off for good time immediately which means he could serve eight and a half years in prison and then 11.5 years on parole and probation. If a convict in his position were to violate parole or probation, he would face up to 20 years in prison, lifetime probation and a fine of up to $250,000.
Each convict has the responsibility to keep up with mandatory classes, payments and every condition of probation. In most cases in the district courts in Tom Green County, the judges tell defendants they should memorize all the conditions of probation.
Every month in Tom Green County, there is at least one day on the docket which is dedicated to dozens of motion to revoke hearings like Wednesday, June 5, 2019.
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