Upon facing a conviction for a crime and pleading guilty, the court may place you on probation instead of sending you to jail. This will allow you to serve your sentence while living in your home and when continuing with your employment. However, in Virginia and other parts of the United States, probation comes with some conditions that you have to adhere to. If you happen to violate the terms of probation, you will face a severe penalty than you would have initially faced. You will need an experienced criminal defense attorney to help you fight the charges of violating the conditions of probation. Virginia Criminal Attorney assists people facing charges for violation of probation in Fairfax, VA. 

Conditions of Probation

Conditions of probation refers to a set of rules that form part of your sentence that you have to follow as a punishment or to help you avoid a harsher penalty.  The court mainly recommends probation for minor crimes or non-violent crimes, including misdemeanor offenses and some felony offenses. For severe crimes like murder, kidnapping, or rape, the court may not grant probation. By granting probation for violent crimes, the court would be posing a threat to the community.  You may also not get probation if you have a lengthy criminal history. First-time offenders have a higher chance of getting probation than repeat offenders. 

At times, the court may sentence you for a short period in jail and then sentence you to a long period of probation. You may have to meet the probation officer regularly and report to him/her on your progress. The court may also impose a condition of allowing visits with the probation officer at home or in the place of work. You may not have a right to hold a firearm while on probation. The court may also ban you from using drugs and other illegal substances while you are on probation. You may not have permission to leave the state until you complete your probation. The court may also require you to keep steady employment as a condition of probation. 

You have to appear for court hearings while you are on probation consistently. The court may also require you to stay clear of any additional criminal activity. In a situation where a victim suffers a loss due to your offense, you may have to pay restitution to the victim as a condition of probation.  As long as you adhere to all the set requirements of probation, your probation term will expire at the date the court indicates. 

Violating Probation in Virginia

You can violate your probation in Virginia in various ways. You may face additional criminal charges for probation violation. Some of the ways in which you can violate probation include failing to show up for the scheduled court hearings. You may violate probation if you fail to report to the probation officer as required under the law. If you fail to pay restitution to the victim and if you fail to pay the applicable court fines, you may violate probation.

Sometimes, the court may put in place a restraining order requiring you to stay away from some places or some people while you are on probation. If you violate the terms of the court and you visit the said places, or contact the restricted persons, you will violate the requirements of probation. You may violate probation terms if you travel outside the state while the court requires you not to leave the state while on probation.  If you wish to leave the state while on probation, you would have to seek permission from the probation officer or from the court to avoid committing an offense.

Other probation violations in Virginia include using, possessing, or selling illegal drugs. If you commit an additional criminal offense while you are on probation, the court may counsel the probation and recommend jail time instead. The court may require you to carry out community service as a condition of probation. If you fail to complete community service, you may violate probation. If the court requires you to get and keep a job while on probation, you may violate the probation for failing to fulfill the requirement.

Consequences of Probation Violation in Virginia

You may face several consequences for violating probation in Virginia. The outcomes you face for violating probation will depend on various factors. The court will consider whether you have violated probation in the past. The court will also consider the seriousness of the probation violation.  Upon violating probation, the probation officer or the court has discretion on the steps to take. If you commit the first violation of probation, the probation officer may issue you with a warning and not impose a further penalty. However, if you commit a second or subsequent violation of probation, the probation officer may report the violation to the court. The court may then require you to attend a hearing to determine whether you violated the terms of probation. If it is evident that you violated probation, the court may impose several consequences.

One of the consequences of probation violation of probation is an extension of the probation period. The court may add new terms to your probation. For instance, the court may require you to attend a drug or alcohol counseling program. The court may also require you to undertake community service for violating the terms of probation.  In some instances, the court may require you to serve a short sentence in jail and then continue with the probation. For gross violation of the conditions of violation, the court may revoke or suspend your probation. If the court revokes probation, you would have to serve part or all of your sentences in prison. 

Prosecutor's Proof

For you to face charges for violating your probation in Virginia, the prosecutor has to prove several elements of probation violation.  With the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney, you can challenge the evidence of the prosecutor. The attorney may also plead with the judge to allow you to continue with the probation and face reduced penalties.

You cannot face charges for probation violation if it is evident that you did not intend to violate the probation. The prosecutor has to prove that the violation was intentional. It should be apparent that your careless conduct led to the violation. If you assert that you violated the terms of your probation by mistake or without realizing it, you may not face charges.

At times, the prosecutor may accuse you of violating your probation, yet you complied with all terms of probation. In this case, an attorney can thoroughly investigate your case to determine what took place.  For instance, the attorney may interview some witnesses, obtain relevant documents, and examine the crime. Criminal defense attorneys use any means possible to defend you.

While on probation, you may have to stay away from drugs and alcohol. If you violate the conditions of probation by testing positive for alcohol or drugs, your attorney may challenge the test results. For instance, the attorney may challenge the DUI results, primarily if the breathalyzer machine used was poorly maintained. Your attorney may also challenge the credibility of the test results if the testing officer did not follow the required testing procedures. 

If you have an alcohol or drug-related problem and you violate the terms of probation, your attorney may advise you on a strategy that may help reduce your charges. He/she may recommend a drug or alcohol-related counseling program. Some of the popular counseling programs include Alcoholics Anonymous. By enrolling in a drug or alcohol-related program, the court may sympathize and reduce your charges.

If you violate probation by failing to pay restitution to the victim or by failing to pay your fines, your attorney may defend you if you did not miss the payments intentionally. If you have a legitimate reason for not paying the fine or restitution, your attorney may negotiate a new payment plan for you. Some of the legitimate reasons for not paying restitution or fines include a family emergency or job loss. 

You may defend yourself for not honoring a court-ordered program like community service or drug and alcohol counseling if you have a good reason for doing so. Your attorney may reason with the prosecutor and resolve the issue of probation violation with him/her. If you can reform and adhere to the court-ordered program before the probation hearing, your case may be easy to negotiate.

Why do you need an Attorney?

Violation of the terms of probation is a severe offense under Virginia law. Therefore, you would not want to face the consequences of probation violation on your own, and this is why you require an attorney.  You should contact an attorney immediately; you realize you are likely to receive a warning from the probation officer. Seeking an attorney early enough gives the attorney ample time to act proactively and help you resolve the issue. This helps to prevent you from facing more severe consequences. If you have already been summoned for a probation hearing, an attorney will help you build a defense against the accusations. The attorney will also negotiate a resolution to the probation violation. 

Probation Violation Process

It is essential to understand the series of events that are likely to take place when you violate the terms of your probation. This will help you know what to expect.  The process is similar to the initial process when the prosecutor first accuses you of a crime. However, after violating probation, you will not enjoy the same rights and protections you enjoyed before. For instance, after violating the terms of probation, you may not have a right to a speedy trial. You may also not have a right to bond. There is no entitlement for the prosecutor to prove that you are guilty beyond doubt. After violating the terms of probation, some of the steps that you should expect are:

An Arrest

If your probation officer feels that something is wrong or that you have not complied with the terms of probation, the officer files an affidavit to the judge. The document outlines the various reasons why the officer states that you have not honored the terms of probation. Based on the reasons the probation officer outlined in the report, the judge signs the affidavit and issues a warrant for your arrest. The judge issues a warrant for your arrest. Upon issuing a warrant of arrest, you may turn yourself in or have the law enforcement arrest you.  You will then get a court date after your arrest. 

In some instances, the probation may not require a warrant for your arrest. The probation officer will not require a warrant for your arrest if you are on felony probation. The same provisions apply if police officers are investigating you for another offense while you are on probation, the police officers will not require a warrant of arrest to turn you in. 

On some rare occasions, the court may summon you to show up for the hearings on the set dates instead of issuing a warrant for your arrest.  As long as you show up in court on the set hearing dates, you can avoid an arrest. In most cases, the case makes a summons instead of a warrant for arrest when you are serving misdemeanor probation. The court may also issue a summons instead of a warrant of arrest if you are almost through with serving your probation. A summons may also apply for minor violations of probation. For instance, if you are unable to raise all the money required to pay for court costs and court fines, you may receive a summons instead of facing an arrest. 

Bond Entitlement and First Appearances

After your arrest for violation of probation in Virginia, you will first go to jail than make the first appearance to determine whether the court will grant you a bond. After violating the terms of a violation, you lose your entitlement to bond. Therefore, the court may choose to issue a bond or not. Some judges will allow the setting of bonds and some other judges will not. If you have completed many terms of probation and you only commit a technical violation, the court may allow you a bond.

If the court fails to grant a bond, you will remain in jail until the probation violation hearing. In different jurisdictions, the period between the arrest and the hearing varies. In some instances, probation hearing may take place within two weeks of your arrest. In some other cases, the probation hearing may take place within three months of your arrest.

For new or substantive violations of probation, your attorney may have to continue with the hearing until the additional offense is resolved. If you have not committed a significant violation or a new probation violation, your case may resolve before proceeding to the violation hearing. In some instances, the court may insist on a probation hearing even if the violation is minor and if you have no new offense. The state has a better chance of convicting you during a probation hearing because the standard of proof required is lower than in a typical criminal case.

The state will insist on holding a probation hearing if the states think that you are involved in organized crime. If you have a terrible criminal record and you have beaten some prior charges, the state may insist on a violation of probation hearing. During the probation hearing, the state may have you confess to other charges because it is easy to convict you during a probation hearing.

Proof Required during the Probation Hearing

During the probation hearing, the prosecutor or the state officials will have to prove various factors. It must be evident that the violation of probation was not only substantial but also intentional. The court will require reasonably satisfactory evidence that you violated the terms of probation. The alternative legal term for satisfactory evidence is a preponderance of the evidence.

Acting intentionally or willfully means that you violated the terms of probation knowingly or on purpose. It means that even if you had the power to prevent the probation violation from happening, you did nothing to stop the violation. Some probation violations, l positive testing for drugs or alcohol, are automatically intentional. It is hard to prove that you did not intend to consume alcohol or drugs. Some violations, including not paying court fines or restitution to the victim, may not be willful. You may be unable to make the payments if you do not have a job, and you have no income. It may not be difficult to prove that you did not imply to violate the terms of probation.

Substantial probation violation means that the violation significantly influenced your probation. Some probation violations may have more impact. For instance, failing to report to the probation officer makes a big impact. By failing to report to the probation officer, the probation officer will not be able to verify that you are honoring the requirements of probation. It is also a substantial violation of probation to commit a violation of the law. Being late to make your payments for restitution or fines may not be a considerable probation violation as long as you pay in the end.

Violation of Probation Hearing Procedure

During a violation of probation hearing, the state gets the chance to state its case first. Usually, your probation officer acts as the sole witness. The probation officer outlines all the conditions that he/she feels you have violated. The officer may have supporting documents like evidence like drug test results. The officer may also have evidence that you committed a new violation.

As the probation officer makes his/her presentation, your attorney will cross-examine him or her. Your attorney may also challenge the evidence presented by the probation officer. The attorney may attempt to prove that your probation violation was not intentional. The attorney may also attempt to prove that the probation officer's evidence is unreliable.

After the presentation by the probation officer, your attorney will get a chance to defend you. Your attorney may call any witnesses who may be available to provide evidence that may be crucial to you. The state will have an opportunity to cross-examine the evidence presented by the attorney and by the witnesses. Sometimes, the state may have a chance for rebuttal after your attorney finishes calling all your witnesses. However, rebuttal takes place in rare occurrences. In most cases, after your attorney and your witnesses present their evidence, the judge hears the closing remarks.

During the closing remarks or the closing arguments, the state will strive to prove that you violated the terms of probation. Your attorney argues that you are innocent, and you did not violate the terms of probation. Your attorney may state that your violation of probation was not willful and intentional.

Hearsay is acceptable in violation of probation hearing, unlike in regular criminal cases. However, the hearsay cannot act as the sole basis of your conviction. The rules of evidence presented are also less strict for probation violation hearings than for regular court cases. The judge will be willing to listen to more evidence during a probation hearing. While this may give your attorney a chance to present more evidence in your defense, it also provides the state with an opportunity to present more evidence against you.

If the judge finds that you did not violate the terms of the violation, you will be free. However, if the judge decides that you violated the probation terms, you will face a conviction. If not guilty, you will be open to continue with the remaining period of probation. If guilty, the judge may impose penalties or revoke your probation and recommend a harsher sentence.

If it is evident that you are guilty, the judge may impose the punishment you would have originally received. For instance, the judge may subject you to imprisonment. The sentencing will depend on your original charge. However, the judge has to adhere to the statutory maximums.

Contact a Fairfax Criminal Lawyer

If you are facing charges for violation of probation in Fairfax, VA, the associated consequences can be devastating. It is essential to seek the help of a Virginia Criminal Attorney. An attorney will defend you during the probation violation hearing. Contact us at 703-718-5533 and speak to one of our attorneys today.