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Criminal – Probation Revocation – Jurisdiction

The Court of Appeals says a trial court did not lack jurisdiction to revoke defendant’s probation to reimpose six months of his previously suspended sentence for grand larceny, despite defendant’s claim that the probation revocation hearing was held after the statutory limitation prescribed by Va. Code § 19.20-306 had expired.

Effective July 1, 2002, Code § 19.2-306 was amended by deleting the requirement that a person charged with violating his probation be arrested and brought before the trial court within one year following the end of his probation period. As amended, the statute in effect when defendant was released from incarceration and began his probation on Feb. 13, 2003, provides that the court may not conduct a hearing to revoke the suspension of sentence unless the court, within one year after the expiration of the period of probation or the period of suspension, issues process to notify the accused or to compel his appearance before the court. (Emphasis added by court).

Citing Morency v. Commonwealth, 274 Va. 569 (2007), defendant asserts that his May 2002 sentencing order was a final judgment order and that Code § 1-239 vested him with an accrued right to the law governing probation revocation procedures in effect at that time. His argument is without merit.

Because the 2002 amendment to Code § 19.2-306 altered only the time period within which a probationer charged with violating the terms of his probation must be brought before the trial court for a hearing on that charge, that amendment was procedural in nature. A procedural remedy may be altered, curtailed or repealed at the will of the legislature and therefore does not give rise to any vested interest. The procedural law governing defendant’s probation is governed by the statute in effect at the time he was placed on probation after serving a portion of his imposed sentence. We conclude the trial court did not err in applying Code § 19.2-306 in effect when defendant began his probation on Feb. 13, 2003. Because his probation revocation proceeding was conducted in compliance with the procedures in effect at the time his probation began, we conclude the trial court properly exercised its jurisdiction pursuant to Code § 19.2-306 in finding that defendant violated his probation and sentence and in sentencing him accordingly.

Judgment affirmed.

Hunter v. Commonwealth (Felton, J.) No. 0868-09-4, July 27, 2010; Arlington County Cir.Ct. (Almand) Matthew T. Foley, Acting PD, for appellant; Jennifer C. Williamson, AAG, for appellee. VLW 010-7-278, 8 pp.

VLW 010-7-278

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