Probation isn’t much fun. Nobody particularly likes something that limits their freedom in any sense. However, most of us would agree that getting probation is a lot better than getting incarcerated. When compared, probation comes out looking much better compared to incarceration.
But if you aren’t careful, you could end up violating your probation and this could result in you facing incarceration. To understand more about how this system works, we’re going to delve into it today. We’ll look at what types of actions violate probation so you may avoid committing them. Then we’ll discuss what options are available should you have a legitimate reason for violating probation. Finally, we’ll look at what factors go into determining the penalty for violating probation and how an attorney can help you.
How Is Probation Violated in Virginia?
It is a crime to violate probation, so it’s pretty important to understand what kinds of actions would violate probation in Virginia. It’s important, however, to first mention that your probation will likely be unique in some ways. Not every probationer is given the same criteria by which to abide. So what may be a common way that probation is violated may not be applicable in your particular case. Always refer to the legal documentation of your probation for questions about what actions are barred and how long the probationary period is to last.
Some common ways probation is violated in Virginia include:
- Failing to show up for court hearings when scheduled
- Failing to report to your probation officer as required
- Failing to pay restitution to a victim, applicable court fines, or court-ordered compensation
- Failure to stay away from places and people as ordered by the court
- Traveling outside of Virginia without the proper authorization of the court or your probation officer
- Committing additional criminal offenses
- Failure to complete the community service required as a condition of your probation
- Failure to get or keep a job as required by the court
Again, remember that each probation is different. The specifics of a probation order are determined by the judge presiding over the case and the unique circumstances of the case in question. This can result in some people having criteria that others won’t. So always stay informed about the language relating to your probation rather than assuming you remember it.
Will I Be Punished If I Had a Legitimate Reason for Violating Probation in Virginia?
Violating a probation order is a serious crime in Virginia. If you are accused of violating your probation then you can bet the prosecutor will move quickly to punish you. However, the punishment will depend on many factors. We’ll consider these in more depth in a moment.
It’s important to keep in mind that less violations result in less punishments. For example, a first time violation may not result in jail time being imposed. Any future violations, however, will come with jail time for violating probation.
Note that this system does not differentiate between legitimate and illegitimate reasons for violating your probation. So say that you had a meeting with your probation officer in the afternoon. You leave with plenty of time to get there but you get involved in a car accident or even just a simple breakdown. As far as the courts care, you violated probation. None of the circumstances surrounding the violation matter.
However, at the hearing you will get a chance to defend yourself or your actions. An attorney can help you to make the most compelling case possible, but essentially this is your chance to show to the courts that the violation was not intentional. Your attorney will be able to provide important information, too, such as the accident report or a record of you in the hospital.
In theory, you can and will be punished for any violation of the probation. By keeping this in mind, you’ll act more intelligently to avoid further consequences. Should you violate your probation, the facts of what occurred matter, and you’ll need an attorney to be able to show the court it wasn’t intended. But if you treat probation like it doesn’t matter, then the chances are in favor of the violation being penalized more severely.
What Factors Go Into Determining the Penalty for Violating Probation?
There is a lot that goes into determining whether you should be sent to jail for a probation violation. These include the seriousness of the violation, any previous probation violations, and any legitimate circumstances there may have been that prevented you from making a court hearing or otherwise living up to what was expected from you as a person under probation.
The unfortunate reality is that nobody can really say how much of a factor each of these will be in a particular judge’s opinion. They don’t need to break down the reasoning behind their decision, so it can be hard to tell whether or not your chances for avoiding serious penalties are good or bad.
One way that you can improve your chances is to work with an attorney that has experience in the field.
Can an Attorney Help With Probation?
Working with an attorney is always a smart move when it comes to legal issues for which you may be jailed such as a probation violation. Having representation can give you some extra breathing room for dealing with your probation. An attorney can offer advice and help keep your emotions in check so you can work on real solutions to your problems instead of just panicking about potential outcomes.
An attorney can help you understand and make a plan for dealing with probation violations, help you argue that you had a legitimate reason for whatever occurred and therefore did not intend on violating your probation, and otherwise fight against the prosecutor’s claims.
When facing a probation violation, it is imperative that you hire an experienced attorney who knows how to investigate these issues and help you defend yourself.