Do I Need A Lawyer For My Probation Violation in Manassas?
Facing a judge again after you were already sentenced for a crime is a scary proposition. At that original sentencing hearing, the judge punished you with either a period of incarceration, a fine, or a combination of penalties. The judge probably suspended some amount of that incarceration or some amount of that time and placed you on probation for some period of months of years. One of that last things that the judge may have said is that “probation is a second chance, so follow the rules of probation. If you return to the courtroom, there may not be another chance.” Contact a criminal lawyer who handles probation violations in Manassas: (703) 542-1803.
An individual who has been convicted of a crime and has had a sentence imposed with any portion of that sentence suspended, is likely under some form of probation. Probation can be active or passive. Passive probation is commonly described as “genera” or “uniform” good behavior. There isn’t a probation officer to report to or that is checking up on a person; however, if a person under good behavior commits or is convicted of a new crime, and the court becomes aware of it, a probation violation hearing may be scheduled.
Supervised probation is the kind most people think about when they think of being on probation. There’s a probation officer, there are rules to follow and tasks to accomplish. Probation can be managed by a county or city agency or by the state probation office. When a person is sentenced to a punishment for a convicted crime, and the judge places that person on probation, the judge may state specific terms and conditions that person must complete while on probation. Common ones are the payment of restitution, completion of community service, undergoing random drug tests, or maintaining employment or school enrollment. The rest of the terms and conditions of probation are set by the probation officer, but those terms and conditions carry the same weight as if the judge imposed them in court.
When a person is accused of committing a probation violation, there are two major categories for that violation: 1. The commission of a new crime or 2. A technical violation. If the probation violation is based on the individual being accused of committing a new offense or being convicted of one, then the probation officer generally reports that incident to the court and the judge either issues a bench warrant (where a person gets arrested) or a rule to show cause (where a person is told they need to appear in court on a scheduled date) and a hearing is conducted as to whether or not there was a new conviction; if so, then the judge decides if all or part of the original sentence that was suspended should be re-imposed on the violation. Having experienced and diligent defense attorneys working on your behalf helps to minimize the amount of punishment the judge may impose. The defense attorney can work with you to discuss if there are other circumstances surrounding the new charge, if there are programs or treatment options available to obtain leniency with the judge.
The other forms of probation violation are known as technical offenses. These violations occur because the probation officer has reported to the court that some term of probation has not been obeyed. That can mean that a person has fallen behind in restitution payments or community service hours. It could mean that a person failed a drug test or did not complete a treatment or counseling program. It could mean that a person “absconded” from probation, which means that they stopped communicating with the probation officer—did not show up to meetings, return phone calls, or live at the address they were supposed to. There are many kinds of conduct that can fit into one of these categories. A person has the right to plead not guilty to being in violation of probation, and it is the burden of the prosecution to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the violation occurred. A hearing then proceeds much in the same way as a trial, where evidence is presented and witnesses are called to testify. If the judge determines that the defendant violated one or more terms of their probation, then the judge is given Sentencing Guidelines that suggest how much of the suspended incarceration should be revoked.
Our team of criminal defense attorneys have handled hundreds of felony and misdemeanor probation violations. Just because a violation is reported to the court does not mean that a violation was actually committed. There are plenty of legitimate reasons that can be presented to the court to explain a circumstance that at first appeared to be a violation. However, if a person has committed a violation of their probation, then an attorney who specializes in defending probation violations is the best option to argue for leniency on behalf of the defendant.