The Case of Sarah Short  and The Passage of Senate Bill 1584

Sarah Short
Sarah Short

I’m Sarah, a former client of David Jones. David helped me during a difficult time while I was struggling to comply with my probation terms. Let me describe how I came into contact with law enforcement; what happened before I sought David’s assistance and finally achieving probation fairness.

During one unremarkable day, I was pulled over by a police officer for a minor traffic violation. During the stop, the officer came to suspect I was under the influence of alcohol. My infant was with me at the time.  When the officer told me to submit to a breathalyzer test, I didn’t want to seem uncooperative. I knew I had only one drink. I was certain the instrument would register below the legal limit of 0.08% blood-alcohol concentration.

As I expected, my blood alcohol level was far below the legal limit.  However, the fact that I had my baby with me changed everything. The officer felt he had the evidence he needed to charge me with child endangerment, a serious felony. Before seeking David’s assistance, the District Attorney offered me a plea bargain.  He offered to drop my felony charge of child endangerment to DWI, a class B misdemeanor. The DA felt that because my blood alcohol was so low, I was not a danger to my baby. I agreed to that reduced charge, along with probation. Little did I know that probation would be a nightmare.

Probation Fairness Must be Assured

I understand probation can be a favored outcome for many people facing sentencing in the Texas justice system. For others, like myself, the conditions of my probation were overly costly and extremely burdensome. As a flight attendant, I was put under enormous strain to pay for my required drug testing—sometimes $100 or more, plus associated fees—and still make ends meet for myself and my one-year-old.

The frequency and timing of mandatory appointments with my probation officer and community service robbed me of time I could’ve spent on a plane working. The court also required my car to be fitted with a breathalyzer, which was installed and maintained at my expense.

My probation conditions set me up for failure

My conditions of probation were onerous and disproportional to my offense. I could not continue to meet the requirements of my probation. At this point, I reached out to David Jones.

David made quick work of modifying myprobation. David determined I was being supervised as a felon, despite being charged with only a misdemeanor.  He called attention to the injustice of saddling me with fees I simply could not afford. He challenged the judge to review my sentence to achieve probation that was fair and attainable.

David successfully persuaded the judge that my current probation conditions only set me up for failure. He gave me a voice in a system that is comfortable handing down cookie-cutter sentences without concern for the nuances of a case.  The abilities of a defendant to meet the conditions of their probation are rarely considered.

Of course, David was successful in reducing my probation, but he didn’t stop there. David wanted to ensure that every probation sentence handed down was fair and proportional to the offense.

Probation Fairness for All Texans

David Jones was instrumental in passing Senate Bill 1584, which took effect September 1, 2017. This groundbreaking bill requires a judge to assign conditions of probation only after considering the risks and needs of a particular defendant. This is how it works: everyone sentenced to community supervision must undergo a standardized evaluation of any risk they may pose.  But now the judge must also set conditions that they are able to fulfill. When someone is sentenced to probation, the judge must consider the impact the conditions of probation would have on that person’s education, work, financial and family commitments.

Failing to follow through on probation only pulls people deeper into the justice system.  Too often the justice system is what sets people up for failure. I was being swallowed up in probation requirements that were unfair and unattainable. Before David Jones championed SB 1584, everyone sentenced to probation was vulnerable to receiving the same over burdensome conditions I was faced with.

With passage of SB 1584 everyone can demand the same consideration and fairness that David demanded for me. If you are someone seeking probation as the outcome of your case or want the conditions of your probation reevaluated, call David Jones.  David has the expertise to persuade your judge to make your probation more manageable. David is highly qualified in all areas of criminal defense.  With his influence in creating SB 1584, he has no equal in the area of probation modification. Give David a call and start on a probation commitment you can live with.  He offers a free, one hour consultation.

Call David at (713) 504-8188.

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