If you are found guilty of committing a crime or decide to plead guilty as part of a plea bargain, you will be sentenced to a punishment by the judge. Being placed on probation can be more desirable than being sentenced to a jail or prison sentence.
If you are sentenced to probation in Virginia, you need to understand the rules you are required to follow. Here’s what you need to know so that you comply with the requirements of your probation and do not face more serious criminal ramifications for violating the terms set by the judge.
What Is Probation in Virginia?
Probation is a form of punishment where a defendant is not incarcerated. It can be granted in misdemeanor or felony cases where the charges are for minor crimes or non-violent offenses. It is more likely that a person would be placed on probation for a first offense than if they have multiple convictions.
Probation would not be granted if a person is convicted of a serious crime, such as murder or rape. If a judge is considering probation when the offense is a felony, they may assign a probation officer to conduct an investigation into the individual’s background and make a recommendation as to whether they believe that probation would be appropriate.
When sentencing a defendant to probation, the judge would determine the level of supervision they should have to ensure they comply with the rules set by the court. There are two types of probation in Virginia:
When a person is placed on unsupervised probation, they would not need to meet with a probation officer. The terms of their probation may only be good behavior and to follow all laws and ordinances of the Commonwealth of Virginia.
While these may seem like easy rules to follow, it does not take much to violate the terms of probation. For example, it could be considered a violation to receive a traffic ticket.
If a defendant is placed on supervised probation, they would be assigned a probation officer who would monitor their compliance with the terms of their probation. They would be required to meet with their probation officer on a regular basis. There are two levels of supervision:
- Low-level supervision. In this type of probation, a person would be required to check in by telephone or meet with their probation officer on a monthly basis.
- Intensive supervision. If a defendant is placed on intensive supervision, they must meet with their probation officer more frequently, both in the officer’s office and in the community.
What Rules Must a Person Follow While on Probation?
The judge would impose certain requirements that a defendant must meet when being placed on probation. Common rules that must be followed include:
- Meeting with a probation officer at times set by them either by telephone or in-person
- Allowing the probation officer to visit the individual’s home and workplace
- Not possessing a firearm
- Not using drugs or other illegal substances
- Maintaining steady employment
- Not having any contact with the victim of the crime
- Consenting to searches at any time without probable cause
- Not committing any other crimes
- Not leaving the state without permission of the court or the person’s probation officer
- Completing a certain number of hours of community service
- Submitting to drug and alcohol testing
- Attending required court hearings
- Paying court costs and fines
What Consequences Could You Face If You Violate the Terms of Your Probation?
It is the probation officer’s job to ensure that you comply with the terms of your probation and to report any violations to the judge. If this is your first violation of a term of your probation, your probation officer may issue you a warning.
However, you could face more serious consequences if the violation is serious or you repeatedly fail to comply with the rules you must follow. You could face these penalties:
- You could have the length of your probation extended.
- You may have to serve a short jail or prison sentence before having your probation resume.
- The judge could impose additional requirements of your probation, such as requiring you to perform community service for a set number of hours or to undergo alcohol or drug testing.
- Your probation may be revoked, and the judge could require you to serve a jail or prison sentence.
Have you been charged with a crime in Virginia? Are you hoping to be placed on probation as part of a plea bargain? Our experienced criminal defense lawyers are here to aggressively defend you and to help you decide whether probation is the best option for you. To learn more about how we can assist you, start a live chat or fill out our convenient online form to schedule a free initial consultation.