Nov 01, 2019 Violation of probation – Fairfax criminal lawyer on defenses
Violation of probation charges call for aggressive defense, says Fairfax criminal lawyer
Violation of probation is a risk with any criminal defendant who receives a suspended jail or prison sentence. As a Fairfax criminal lawyer, I know that the best defense against such charges starts with erring on the safe side of doing nothing to get accused of violating probation in the first place.
A criminal defendant should not gloat if the judge does not state a probation length
At least a few times, I have seen Fairfax sentencing orders (stated on the warrant of arrest) that do not state a probation period. That omission is not time for the sentenced defendant to gloat that s/he now is probation violation-proof, because:
“If neither a probation period nor a period of suspension was fixed by the court, then the court may revoke the suspension for any cause the court deems sufficient that occurred within the maximum period for which the defendant might originally have been sentenced to be imprisoned.”
Va. Code § 19.2-306(A).
Therefore, if a Virginia judge imposes a suspended jail sentence on a defendant for a Class 1 misdemeanor and does not state a probation length, the probation length is the one year maximum that is available for Class 1 misdemeanors, thus establishing probation violation exposure during that period. Burnham v. Commonwealth, ___ Va. ___ (Oct. 31, 2019).
General good behavior always is a condition of probation in Virginia
General good behavior always is a condition of probation in the commonwealth, making a violation of good behavior subject to probation violation:
“Even though our cases have held for over 50 years that good behavior is an implicit condition of a suspended sentence, the better practice is to expressly include that language in an order revoking and re-suspending a sentence. An expressly stated condition of good behavior provides additional notice to a defendant and minimizes the risk of confusion.”
Fairfax criminal lawyer’s tips for avoiding a probation violation charge
Having defended hundreds of people charged with probation violations, here are some basic — although not exhaustive — tips on succeeding with probation in Fairfax and the rest of the commonwealth:
Unsupervised probation means the sentenced person has no probation agent but must obey the law and be of good behavior.
- If urine drug testing is a condition of supervised probation, avoid substances that might lead to a dirty urine test, which could include consuming poppy seeds, and over-the-counter medications and remedies from other countries that would be prescription medications in the United States.
- Arrive on time for all meetings with one’s probation agent. Being courteous to the agent can go a long way.
- Only miss a meeting with a probation agent if with the agent’s clear rescheduling consent, and get that timely documented, for instance by faxing the agent that s/he okayed the rescheduling.
Fairifax criminal lawyer Jonathan L. Katz pursues your best defense against prosecutions for felony, misdemeanor, DUI, and probation violation charges. Jon Katz will be delighted to discuss your pending criminal case at his office across the street from the Fairfax courthouse. To schedule a confidential consultation with Jon, please call his staff at 703-383-1100.