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Virginia suspended jail sentences are treated seriously by judges

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Virginia suspended jail sentences and probation periods are treated very seriously by trial judges, says Fairfax criminal lawyer

Virginia suspended sentences — and their related probation lengths and conditions — need to be taken seriously by criminal defendants, because sentencing judges take seriously every aspect of the sentences they impose, and not merely any active jail and prison time they order. As a Fairfax criminal lawyer, I know that criminal defendants need to pay careful attention to potential suspended jail time and probation length and probation conditions when considering between proceeding to trial and negotiating a case settlement / plea deal. Probation conditions can include such obligations as paying restitution on a timely basis, undergoing mental health counseling, attending drug treatment, and, for Virginia DUI cases, attending alcohol treatment and only driving pursuant to the terms and conditions of a restricted license. General good behavior (GGB) / uniform good behavior (UGB) is also always a condition of Virginia probation, which includes not committing crimes while on probation.

A conviction imposed while on probation is not by itself a violation of the general good behavior condition of probation

A conviction for a crime committed before the sentencing that led to probation, cannot logically constitute a probation violation. The actual crime related to the new conviction must have been committed during the probation period in order to be eligible for a probation violation ruling. Certainly, when the defense makes such an evidentiary challenge and knows that the new conviction is from a crime occurring during the probation period, backlash may come to the defendant by the judge’s possible impatience about pursuing such a technicality. However, requiring the prosecution to prove the elements of a probation violation is not a technicality. To reduce the possible sting from such judicial backlash, it is good if the defendant will have developed some strong self improvement after being sentenced, in an effort to avoid a probation revocation and imposition of any of their Virginia suspended incarceration sentence.

Judges are not going to sustain defense objections concerning Virginia jail sentences, where the objection goes to a mere clerical error

Richard Hill got released from incarceration with a Virginia suspended jail sentence and probation, after serving time for unlawful wounding. Hill was found in violation of probation not long after being released from incarceration. Hill v. Virginia, ___ Va. ___ (Aug. 11, 2022). His probation violation disposition included active incarceration time and a further probation period. Hill had not much to be able to challenge in this probation violation litigation, other than to argue that no suspended jail sentence applied to his then-renewed probation period, thus making him ineligible for further incarceration in the case. Instead, the Virginia Supreme Court in Hill accepts Hill’s sentencing judge’s determination that any inaction in carrying the remainder of the suspended jail sentence over to the new probation period was a clerical error that the trial judge fixed. The Virginia courts are not going to let criminal defendants off that easily.

What should I do if put on probation and given a Virginia suspended jail sentence?

If you are put on probation and given a Virginia suspended jail sentence, make sure you understand your probation obligations. Those obligations are simple to understand, even though plenty of people are found in violation of those conditions. At any time that you think you are at risk of being charged with a probation violation, or have been so charged, that is the time to qualified with a qualified lawyer. Fairfax criminal lawyer Jonathan Katz has successfully defended scores of people charged with probation violations.

Fairfax criminal lawyer Jon Katz is here to attack criminal court challenges before they fester, and to be fully and successfully trial ready for you. Call 703-383-1100 for your free in-person confidential consultation with Jon about your court=pending Virginia DUI, felony or misdemeanor prosecution.