A sentence of probation undoubtedly came as a great relief to you and your family. Instead of serving your sentence behind bars, you can remain at home and continue your life with some important restrictions. You may be allowed to continue working at your job or search for meaningful work. When you have completed your sentence in a few months or years, everything can go back to normal.
Some days may seem like nothing has changed. However, unless you keep in mind the court-ordered terms of your probation, you run the risk of violating them. This could have serious consequences.
Restrictions on your release
Probation is not just a free pass. The judge likely placed severe limitations on you for the period of your probation. Above all, the court expects you to avoid any future criminal activity or associations with those who may be under investigation for criminal offenses. On the other hand, while some of your restrictions may seem minor, violating them could land you in even more trouble. Your probation may include the following terms or others:
- Regular scheduled meetings with a probation officer
- Future court appearances
- Fines related to your offense
- Restitution to the victims of the crime of which the court convicted you
- Avoidance of anyone with a felony conviction or anyone associated with your offense
- Complete abstinence from illegal drugs and sometimes alcohol
- Restrictions on travel outside of Virginia
Your probation officer will likely be the person who instigates any action against you once he or she learns of a violation of your probation terms. Probation officers may have some discretion, and you may be fortunate to receive a warning. However, if the violation of your terms is more serious, you may find yourself back in court explaining yourself to the judge who sentenced you in the first place.
What happens next?
Like your original trial, the prosecutor will have to convince the judge that you committed a serious violation of your probationary terms, and you will have the chance to defend yourself. Depending on the severity of the violation and the circumstances surrounding it, you may face penalties including an extension of your probationary period, more restrictions on your probation or even the complete revocation of your probation. The latter means you will serve the rest of your sentence in jail or prison.
If you are facing allegations that you violated your probation, you have a lot to lose. Seeking the counsel of a criminal defense attorney is a wise move to ensure the protection of your rights.