Probation is a chance to serve your sentence for a criminal conviction in your own community instead of behind bars. If you recently received a sentence of probation for drug crimes or other offenses, you may have felt relieved. You now have the opportunity to continue living your life and perhaps rebuilding from the mistakes that resulted in a criminal conviction.
However, going back to your normal life includes living within the restrictions of your probationary terms. In fact, if you violate the terms of your probation, you risk severe consequences.
What are the terms you must obey?
A probation violation is a separate charge that may carry additional penalties. To understand how to avoid violating your probation, it is important that you know the terms under which the court imposed this sentence. While every state or jurisdiction has its own laws, and your situation may have its unique factors, some common probationary terms include the following:
- You must appear in court for any scheduled hearings.
- You will have scheduled times to meet with your probation officer to discuss your progress and determine if you are facing any risks of re-offending.
- The court may have ordered you to pay fines or restitution to any victims of your alleged offense as part of your probationary terms.
- Your probation may prohibit you from associating with certain people, including those with felony records or anyone alleged to have participated in the crime of which the court convicted you.
- You may have restrictions that permit you to travel only within the state of Virginia unless your probation officer approves you going outside the state.
Of course, your probation may certainly be in jeopardy if you are arrested or charged with other offenses, even something as simple as a speeding ticket. If your probation officer learns you have been using or possessing drugs or in other ways violating the terms of your court order, your future may be in jeopardy.
Depending on the severity of the alleged violation, your probation officer may issue a warning or may bring you to court for a violation hearing.
The consequences of a probation violation may include an extension of your existing sentence, a brief time in jail or the complete revocation of your probation, which means you will serve the remainder of your sentence behind bars. You should not face this risk alone. If you are facing a probation violation hearing, having legal counsel is a wise move.