In a recent appellate case coming out of a Virginia court, the defendant successfully appealed his unfavorable verdict from the lower court. At issue in the case was whether the defendant was fairly sentenced after he violated the terms of his probation. On appeal, the defendant argued the court had improperly considered the nature of his offenses before sentencing him to time in prison. The higher court agreed with the defendant, reversing the lower court’s decision.
Facts of the Case
According to the opinion, the defendant in this case appeared for a hearing to determine whether he had violated the terms of his probation. The stakes of the hearing were high: if the court were to find that the defendant had violated his probation terms, he would be sentenced to time in prison. If not, he would be re-released to live under the terms of his probation.
The most important factor for the lower court in deciding the defendant’s case was whether the defendant had committed violations that were technical or non-technical. According to Virginia law, when a criminal defendant on probation commits a specific offense coming from a list of ten pre-stated offenses, the defendant has committed a technical violation. All other violations are deemed non-technical in nature.
There is a law in Virginia stating that if a defendant commits three technical violations during probation, he or she can then be incarcerated for one year. It was important, then, for the lower court to determine whether or not the defendant’s violations were technical in nature – this would affect whether or not the defendant had to spend time in prison.
On appeal, the defendant argued that the lower court had decided the violations were technical without any evidence actually supporting this conclusion. The higher court, reviewing the record in the case, agreed with the defendant. The lower court had only heard general evidence about the three violations, and they did not have enough information to decide whether the defendant’s violations were technical or non-technical. Without this information, the court could not fairly sentence the defendant to time in prison, which is the typical punishment for three technical violations of probation.
Because the lower court lacked cause to find the defendant guilty of three technical violations, it ruled against the defendant mistakenly. Thus, the higher court sided with the defendant and reversed his guilty verdict.
Are You Facing Criminal Charges in Fairfax County, Virginia?
At Robinson Law, PLLC, we understand which arguments work and which arguments fall short when arguing against criminal charges in Virginia. The law can be complicated, and our job is to take care of all of the litigation strategy for you, so that you can rest easy knowing your case is being handled. We handle cases across Fairfax County related to DUIs, assault and battery, drugs, guns, and domestic violence. For a free and confidential consultation, call us today at 703-542-3616.