ILNews

Judges have flexibility on probation violations

Michael W. Hoskins
January 1, 2007
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If someone violates their probation, trial courts have the authority to modify a part of those probation terms and can add new conditions as they see necessary.

The Indiana Supreme Court ruled today in Russell Prewitt v. State of Indiana, No. 10S04-0707-CR-294, arising out of Prewitt's previous attempted cocaine possession conviction and subsequent probation starting in mid-2005. The state moved to revoke his probation twice within four months for alleged violations, and the trial court determined Prewitt had violated the probation. Clark Superior Judge Cecile Blau ordered that Prewitt serve two years of his previously suspended six-year sentence and that he receive post-incarceration treatment at Richmond State Hospital as a new condition of probation.

On appeal, Prewitt argued the trial court didn't have the authority to both order a portion of the previously suspended sentence and to modify the conditions. He relied on the word "or" within Indiana Code 35-38-2-3(g), which spells out the three options courts have in dealing with probation violations by continuing probation without modifying for enlarging the conditions; extending that period up to a year; "or" ordering execution of all or part of the sentence suspended at initial sentencing.

Supreme Court justices cited past caselaw and legislative intent from other statutes in determining what's allowed.

"We cannot postulate a reason the legislature would grant trial courts discretion to combine conditions when first placing a defendant on probation but not when sentencing a defendant after a probation violation," Chief Justice Randall T. Shepard wrote. "We do not perceive the word 'or' in this statute as reflecting a legislative decision to put revocation decisions in a straightjacket."

The court noted judicial flexibility serves the public interest by giving judges the ability to order sentences they deem to be the most effective and appropriate for individuals.

Justices also determined that Prewitt's sentence was not an abuse of discretion by the trial judge and affirmed the trial court judgment.
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  1. Well, maybe it's because they are unelected, and, they have a tendency to strike down laws by elected officials from all over the country. When you have been taught that "Democracy" is something almost sacred, then, you will have a tendency to frown on such imperious conduct. Lawyers get acculturated in law school into thinking that this is the very essence of high minded government, but to people who are more heavily than King George ever did, they may not like it. Thanks for the information.

  2. I pd for a bankruptcy years ago with Mr Stiles and just this week received a garnishment from my pay! He never filed it even though he told me he would! Don't let this guy practice law ever again!!!

  3. Excellent initiative on the part of the AG. Thankfully someone takes action against predators taking advantage of people who have already been through the wringer. Well done!

  4. Conour will never turn these funds over to his defrauded clients. He tearfully told the court, and his daughters dutifully pledged in interviews, that his first priority is to repay every dime of the money he stole from his clients. Judge Young bought it, much to the chagrin of Conour’s victims. Why would Conour need the $2,262 anyway? Taxpayers are now supporting him, paying for his housing, utilities, food, healthcare, and clothing. If Conour puts the money anywhere but in the restitution fund, he’s proved, once again, what a con artist he continues to be and that he has never had any intention of repaying his clients. Judge Young will be proven wrong... again; Conour has no remorse and the Judge is one of the many conned.

  5. Pass Legislation to require guilty defendants to pay for the costs of lab work, etc as part of court costs...

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