Many people convicted of a crime in Virginia or plead guilty can receive a modified sentence, which can include probation instead of going to jail. This is an attractive option for many offenders because it allows them to live at home and continue their employment.
However, if the courts place you on probation, the courts and your probation officer expect you to adhere to the terms laid out for you. If you fail to do so, they may move to violate your probation and set up a probation hearing. If this is your case, you will need the help of a Fairfax criminal defense attorney to fight the charges and minimize the consequences.
But sometimes, you may feel you violated the terms of your probation in Virginia for a good reason. If this is your case, continue reading for answers.
What Are the Common Probation Violations in Virginia?
Violating probation is considered a crime. If your probation term hasn’t expired, you are still required to adhere to all the set requirements. There are several ways a person can violate probation in Virginia.
The common ones include:
- Failing to show up for the scheduled court hearings
- Failing to report to your probation officer as required under the law
- Failing to pay restitution to a victim – compensation ordered by the court – or applicable court fines
- Failing to stay away from certain places or certain people as ordered by the court
- Traveling outside Virginia without the authorization of the court or your probation officer
- Committing additional criminal offenses while still on probation, e.g., possessing or selling illegal drugs
- Failing to complete any community service if it was a condition of the probation
- Not getting or keeping a job if it was a court requirement
What Are the Consequences of Violating My Probation?
Virginia treats a probation violation as a serious crime. If you are accused of probation violation, the state will, in many cases, move swiftly to punish you. However, the punishment will depend on many factors, including your actions’ seriousness and any history of probation violations.
But your probation officer bears the discretion on what steps to take. You may receive a warning if it is your first violation, or get reported to the court. If you are reported to the court, you will be required to attend a hearing to decide whether you violated the probation terms, and if so, what penalties to slap you with.
Some of these consequences include:
- An extension of your probation period
- You could be sentenced to serve jail time
- Your previous probation could have new additional terms
- You may receive a revocation of probation and be required to start all over again or part of your sentence in prison
Will I Still Be Punished If I Had Good Reasons for Violating My Probation?
The simple answer to this is yes. Any action you take that violates your probation can potentially lead to a prison sentence or other penalties. For instance, missing an appointment with your probation officer because you had car problems, work commitments, or were not feeling well are not acceptable excuses. In such situations, your Fairfax criminal defense lawyer will try and argue that you’ve attended all other meetings.
If you have a legitimate reason, like a car accident, your probation violation lawyer in Fairfax, VA, will show the courts that you were involved in a car accident on your way to meeting your probation officer, or you were hospitalized at the time.
If you failed to pay compensation to a victim as ordered by the courts or were unable to pay court fines, your attorney may try to argue that you are indigent and couldn’t afford to make payments. However, the courts will probably scrutinize your finances and deem things like eating out as a luxury.
If Sent to Jail, How Long Will I Be in Jail for Probation Violation?
Being sent to prison is a distinct possibility that will be determined by several factors. The decision of whether to punish you with jail time and how long you will serve the prison sentence will depend on these factors:
The Seriousness of the Violation
Probation violations are not treated equally. For instance, not paying court fees despite trying your best to fulfill the demand won’t be treated the same as being found guilty of disregarding court proceedings. If you are on probation for DUI and are caught driving under the influence, the courts may take it as willful misconduct and an egregious offense, as compared to not paying court fees.
A Prior Probation Violation
If this is your second or third time violating probation, the chances of getting a prison sentence increase dramatically. With each probation violation, judges become less tolerant.
Mandatory Minimum Sentences
The law may compel the judge to sentence a probationer to jail once they violate their probation terms.
A judge might be merciful with a probationer if they missed a court hearing due to injury or death in the family. If there are explainable reasons, the judge may be willing to forgive the probationer with a warning.
What Defenses Can I Use in Violated Probation Claim?
Your criminal defense attorney in Northern Virginia can help you defend your probation violation claims. Some defenses are practical solutions, while others are meant to fight the prosecutor’s claims.
Some of them include:
If you consider the terms of the probation and discover there was no violation committed, you can use your probation violation lawyer in Fairfax to defend those charges against you.
Some rules are often broken unintentionally. For instance, a probationer may unintentionally assume their probation ended.
Some situations are justified when you break probation rules. For example, if you are in a family emergency, that left you with little choice but to skip a meeting with your probation officer.
A Legal Representative Fighting for Your Freedom
Ideally, you shouldn’t be caught violating your probation terms. It bears dire consequences which you’d rather not face. But even if you did violate the terms of your probation, you still have strategies to fight the negative impact of this offense. The key is contacting an experienced probation violation attorney in Fairfax.
A lawyer who knows the judge, prosecutors and can fight effectively for you will produce better results than going it alone. Schedule a free consultation today with a criminal defense lawyer serving Fairfax and Northern Virginia.