Virginia Criminal Defense Attorney
A noise violation is an allegation that somebody is creating a disturbance, at such a level, and at such time, that they are exceeding the bounds of reasonableness. Depending on the county, the definition of what a noise violation is will change slightly. For example, there is a local ordinance in Fairfax County that conveys when an inappropriate amount of sound should be allowed without a permit. The noise ordinance says that there cannot be certain levels of discernible noise after a certain time at night.
Excessive noise depends on the decibel level as well as the amount of discomfort it provides to others, such as the people who complain about it. If there is no complaint, there is not going to be as much of an issue as when somebody reports that the noise is interfering with another’s reasonable enjoyment of their own property and their own time. Near college campuses, noise violations can take place, especially in areas where students live in residential areas with non-students.
The difference between noise violations at the university level versus the state level is that the wording and the specific restrictions may be different. A university is free to set whatever noise regulations it wants, and those might change depending on the current administration, the needs of the student, or various other elements.
The term quiet hours usually refers to specific times when the university prohibits people from blasting music, creating a ruckus in their dorms, or participating and conducting any other type of loud activity. The university generally sets quiet hours in order to allow students the opportunity to study or to sleep without interruption.
The Virginia statutes change based on the legislature and are much more rigid. There are going to be special and specific restrictions on lawn equipment noises, like lawnmowers and leaf blowers, as well as the collection of trash and when that type of noise is appropriate and when.
Virginia state laws on noise ordinances are going to be much more specific and comprehensive whereas the university might have a more blanket noise restriction.
A noise violation is often considered a minor offense, however, it depends on how it is charged and what the circumstances are surrounding it.
For example, a noise violation in Fairfax, Virginia, is considered a misdemeanor. It is a class two misdemeanor and could have up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.
It could also be punished as some kind of a lower offense, a simple penalty, which would have a fine for $250 or $500 with no criminal element attached to it. It is going to be dependent on the facts and how it is charged by the officer that attends to the call.
On the university level, noise violations will vary in the severity of punishment, depending on the specific university’s code of conduct and on what they place priority. For example, if somebody pulled fire alarms causing extreme disruption to a large group of people, the sanctions of that and the administrative action that will be taken are much more serious than if somebody played music too loudly.
It is going to depend on the university and a case by case basis. It is important to consult the university conduct code to find out what the ultimate consequences will be for violating a university’s noise policy.
Anybody who is breaking the noise state ordinances or policies at the university will be found guilty of a noise violation.
A roommate can sometimes be responsible for a noise violation even if they were not home. It depends on the circumstances. If the roommate left the music on, caused the noise, and nobody is in the room, they would potentially be found liable for a noise violation.
In a situation where roommates are co-hosting a party and the roommate knew of the noise but left the party early, they still could be cited a violation. It depends on the facts of the case.
Students should contact a noise violation lawyer as soon as they receive some kind of notification that they are being administratively investigated by their school or as soon as they receive a ticket or summon for violating a noise ordinance in their county by a police officer or by some other type of officer.
Even if a student has only received a violation from the school, it is helpful to contact an attorney that knows about the student code of conduct and consults on noise violations. That kind of attorney will be able to tell the client what the consequences could be based on their academic records and how to avoid administrative sanctions. This is especially important if the defendant is involved in other activities or has been in trouble before with the school.
Even something as simple as a noise violation might have a significant impact on a person’s ability to continue attending the school. Having a noise violation on a person’s record could impact their future when applying to other schools, as well.