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State didn’t prove woman took drug while on probation

December 6, 2013

The Indiana Court of Appeals reversed the revocation of a Sullivan County woman’s probation, finding the state didn’t demonstrate that Michelle Orr Carpenter took a barbiturate while on probation.

Carpenter pleaded guilty to resisting law enforcement Oct. 4, 2012, and was placed on probation. She was prohibited from using any controlled substance without a prescription as a part of her probation terms. Five days after starting probation, she failed a drug test that showed she took phenobarbital. She did not have a prescription for that drug.

At a hearing on the probation violation, a pharmacist testified that phenobarbital can show up on a test up to three weeks after having ingested it. Carpenter said she had been prescribed the drug while an inpatient at a drug rehab center back in May, but said she never took it outside of her time at the facility.

The Court of Appeals reversed the probation revocation because there is no evidence she used the drug during the five days between her placement on probation and her drug test. Her probation officer did not give her a drug screen at the start of her probation to establish if any drugs were in her system. The state did not present any evidence of the amount or concentration of the drug it detected.

“Even when viewed most favorably to the State, the evidence here was in equipoise, and it was no more likely that Carpenter ingested phenobarbital during her probationary period than it was that she ingested it before her probationary period,” Judge Edward Najam wrote in Michelle Orr Carpenter v. State of Indiana, 77A01-1306-CR-293.
 

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