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Trial court used wrong legal standard in revoking probation

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The Indiana Court of Appeals has ordered a trial court to use the proper legal standard to determine whether a woman violated her probation when she was arrested for theft. The trial court used a probable cause standard instead of the legal standard of a preponderance of evidence.

In Kimberly Heaton v. State of Indiana, No. 48A02-1104-CR-404, Kimberly Heaton argued that Madison Superior Judge Dennis D. Carroll used the incorrect legal standard – probable cause – when revoking her probation and ordering her to serve 18 months of her previously suspended sentence in prison. Heaton was on probation after pleading guilty to Class D felony receiving stolen property. She was later arrested for Class D felony theft and the state filed a petition to revoke her probation.

An evidentiary hearing was held on March 8, 2011, but Heaton was unable to attend due to pregnancy complications. A week later, she was able to testify. The trial court found her to be in violation of four terms of her probation.

Appellate Judge Nancy Vaidik noted that courts had interpreted Indiana’s probation revocation statute before 1983 as requiring a probable cause determination for determining whether a new offense was committed. That statute was revised in 1983 and now says that probation violations must be proven by a preponderance of the evidence. Some cases post-1983 have relied on cases that cite the old statute, but those cases are relying on out-of-date law.

“We note that today the correct legal standard in determining if a person on probation has committed another offense is a preponderance of the evidence, as is articulated in the current Indiana Code section 35-38-2-3(e),” wrote Vaidik.

The trial court here used the wrong legal standard, so the appellate court couldn’t be sure if the judge would have imposed the same 18-month sentence. The COA instructed the trial court to use the preponderance of the evidence legal standard to determine whether Heaton violated her probation with the new arrest and resentence her in light of the new findings.

 

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  1. As one of the many consumers affected by this breach, I found my bank data had been lifted and used to buy over $200 of various merchandise in New York. I did a pretty good job of tracing the purchases to stores around a college campus just from the info on my bank statement. Hm. Mr. Hill, I would like my $200 back! It doesn't belong to the state, in my opinion. Give it back to the consumers affected. I had to freeze my credit and take out data protection, order a new debit card and wait until it arrived. I deserve something for my trouble!

  2. Don't we have bigger issues to concern ourselves with?

  3. Anyone who takes the time to study disciplinary and bar admission cases in Indiana ... much of which is, as a matter of course and by intent, off the record, would have a very difficult time drawing lines that did not take into account things which are not supposed to matter, such as affiliations, associations, associates and the like. Justice Hoosier style is a far departure than what issues in most other parts of North America. (More like Central America, in fact.) See, e.g., http://www.theindianalawyer.com/indiana-attorney-illegally-practicing-in-florida-suspended-for-18-months/PARAMS/article/42200 When while the Indiana court system end the cruel practice of killing prophets of due process and those advocating for blind justice?

  4. Wouldn't this call for an investigation of Government corruption? Chief Justice Loretta Rush, wrote that the case warranted the high court’s review because the method the Indiana Court of Appeals used to reach its decision was “a significant departure from the law.” Specifically, David wrote that the appellate panel ruled after reweighing of the evidence, which is NOT permissible at the appellate level. **But yet, they look the other way while an innocent child was taken by a loving mother who did nothing wrong"

  5. Different rules for different folks....

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