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Court reverses probation revocation

January 1, 2007
A mapping system showing a potential day-care center near a residence wasn't enough to convince to the Indiana Court of Appeals that a Marion County sex offender's probation should be revoked for staying at the residence one night.

The court unanimously ruled today in Clinton Carden v. State of Indiana, 49A02-0608-CR-700. Marion Superior Magistrate Nancy Broyles had revoked Carden's four-year probation that was a result of his 2001 guilty plea to one felony count of child molesting and part of his overall 10-year sentence.

He was not to live within 1,000 feet of a school or place frequented by children, had to have a single verifiable residence in Marion County, and was not to be within two blocks of any child-prone area. Carden wanted to live with his girlfriend, but his probation officer used an unidentified "mapping system" to find that wasn't allowed because the address was within the two-block vicinity of an unnamed day care.

Three visits to Carden's address in June 2006 showed that Carden wasn't there, but the presence of his girlfriend's children there concerned the probation officer. Carden told the probation officer he wasn't at his home during the visits because he'd spent one night with his girlfriend and another night with a friend. Within a week, the state filed a probation violation notice against him, and the trial court revoked his probation.

In the appellate decision, the court determined that the trial court committed a fundamental error and deprived Carden of his rights.

"Here, the only evidence used to revoke Carden's probation was [the parole officer's] testimony that some unidentified mapping system showed that the Barnett address was within two blocks of some unnamed daycare center," Judge Nancy Vaidik wrote. "And there was no information that the daycare was even in business when Carden spent the night at [his girlfriend's] address. The error in admitting [the parole officer's] testimony is so prejudicial to Carden's rights as to make a fair trial impossible. Without [the parole officer's] testimony, there is simply no evidence to show that Carden entered within two blocks of a daycare center."
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