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COA splits on need for evidentiary hearing in revocation

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The Indiana Court of Appeals split as to whether only a chronological case summary entry indicating a man’s admissions to violating terms of community corrections placement is enough to bypass holding an evidentiary hearing.

When a probationer admits to a violation of probation, the due process requirements of an evidentiary hearing, and confrontation and cross-examination of the witnesses is unnecessary. Robert Beeler was serving his sentence following a guilty plea to felony robbery and criminal confinement in Marion County Community Corrections Home Detention. The state alleged he violated the terms of community corrections because he had been alleged to be a juvenile delinquent in another case and did not comply with the rules of home detention.

According to a CCS entry in Beeler’s robbery and criminal confinement case, he admitted to all four counts under the notice of violation of community corrections and the two counts charged under the notice of violation of probation. The trial court found he violated the terms and ordered him to serve six years of his previously suspended sentence.

Since Beeler didn’t object to the trial court revoking his community corrections placement and probation, he must prove the court made a fundamental error. The only indication on record that Beeler admitted to violating the terms was the CCS entry to that effect. In Robert Beeler v. State of Indiana, No. 49A05-1007-CR-456, the majority concluded that was enough to establish an admission and thus waive the requirement of an evidentiary hearing. The majority cited Epps v. State, 244 Ind. 515. 525, 192 N.E.2d 459, 464 (1963), and Trojnar v. Trojnar, 698 N.E.2d 301, 304 (Ind. 1998), to support their ruling.

Judge Terry Crone dissented, pointing out that there was no transcript containing Beeler’s admission. He disagreed with the state’s position that the appellate court should be able to rely on the trial court’s assertions in its docket to establish the truth of events even when the transcript doesn’t specifically verify them.

“Given the fundamental due process and liberty interests at stake, and given that the transcript actually contradicts the CCS’s version of events, I disagree with the State’s position,” he wrote. “If Beeler admitted to a probation violation off the record – a fact that Beeler does not concede on appeal – it was incumbent upon the State to ensure that the admission was repeated on the record. This it failed to do.”

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