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Justices: Use preponderance of evidence standard to find probation violation

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Kimberly Heaton will have a new hearing on whether she violated the terms of her probation when she was charged with Class D felony theft. The Indiana Supreme Court vacated her probation revocation because a Madison Superior judge may have used the wrong legal standard to find the violation.

Heaton was on probation in September 2009 after pleading guilty to Class D felony receiving stolen property when she was arrested and charged with theft. The state filed a notice of probation alleging three technical violations and that she committed a new criminal offense. Madison Superior Judge Dennis D. Carroll, using the probable cause standard, found she violated her probation and ordered she serve 18 months of her previously suspended sentence.

In Kimberly Heaton v. State of Indiana, 48S02-1206-CR-350, Heaton argued that the trial court should have used the preponderance of evidence standard when determining if she committed a new criminal offense. The Indiana Court of Appeals agreed with Heaton, as did the justices.

The state claimed that caselaw shows the proper standard is probable cause, citing Cooper v. State, 917 N.E.2d 667 (Ind. 2009). But the only issue properly before the justices in Cooper was whether the trial court erred in denying his motion to reconsider, Chief Justice Brent Dickson pointed out. The Cooper court found that probable cause would be needed to revoke probation.

Since 1976, the Indiana Code has said that the state must prove a violation by a preponderance of the evidence, and “To the extent that Cooper may be read to permit proof only by probable cause, it is overruled,” Dickson wrote.

In Heaton’s case, the justices found the record unclear as to which standard Carroll used because he referenced the probable cause standard and claimed the court found by a preponderance of the evidence that Heaton committed the crime. They vacated the probation revocation and order she serve a portion of her previously suspended sentence and sent the case back to Madison Superior Court. There, Carroll will hold a new determination of whether Heaton violated the conditions of her probation by a preponderance of the evidence pursuant to I.C. 35-38-2-3(e) (2008), and if so, what the appropriate sanction is.

 

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  1. Welcome to Hendricks County where local and state statutes (especially Indiana Class C misdemeanors) are given a higher consideration than Federal statues and active duty military call-ups.

  2. If real money was spent on this study, what a shame. And if some air-head professor tries to use this to advance a career, pity the poor student. I am approaching a time that i (and others around me) should be vigilant. I don't think I'm anywhere near there yet, but seeing the subject I was looking forward to something I might use to look for some benchmarks. When finally finding my way to the hidden questionnaire all I could say to myself was...what a joke. Those are open and obvious signs of any impaired lawyer (or non-lawyer, for that matter), And if one needs a checklist to discern those tell-tale signs of impairment at any age, one shouldn't be practicing law. Another reason I don't regret dropping my ABA membership some number of years ago.

  3. The case should have been spiked. Give the kid a break. He can serve and maybe die for Uncle Sam and can't have a drink? Wow. And they won't even let him defend himself. What a gross lack of prosecutorial oversight and judgment. WOW

  4. I work with some older lawyers in the 70s, 80s, and they are sharp as tacks compared to the foggy minded, undisciplined, inexperienced, listless & aimless "youths" being churned out by the diploma mill law schools by the tens of thousands. A client is generally lucky to land a lawyer who has decided to stay in practice a long time. Young people shouldn't kid themselves. Experience is golden especially in something like law. When you start out as a new lawyer you are about as powerful as a babe in the cradle. Whereas the silver halo of age usually crowns someone who can strike like thunder.

  5. YES I WENT THROUGH THIS BEFORE IN A DIFFERENT SITUATION WITH MY YOUNGEST SON PEOPLE NEED TO LEAVE US ALONE WITH DCS IF WE ARE NOT HURTING OR NEGLECT OUR CHILDREN WHY ARE THEY EVEN CALLED OUT AND THE PEOPLE MAKING FALSE REPORTS NEED TO GO TO JAIL AND HAVE A CLASS D FELONY ON THERE RECORD TO SEE HOW IT FEELS. I WENT THREW ALOT WHEN HE WAS TAKEN WHAT ELSE DOES THESE SCHOOL WANT ME TO SERVE 25 YEARS TO LIFE ON LIES THERE TELLING OR EVEN LE SAME THING LIED TO THE COUNTY PROSECUTOR JUST SO I WOULD GET ARRESTED AND GET TIME HE THOUGHT AND IT TURNED OUT I DID WHAT I HAD TO DO NOT PROUD OF WHAT HAPPEN AND SHOULD KNOW ABOUT SEEKING MEDICAL ATTENTION FOR MY CHILD I AM DISABLED AND SICK OF GETTING TREATED BADLY HOW WOULD THEY LIKE IT IF I CALLED APS ON THEM FOR A CHANGE THEN THEY CAN COME AND ARREST THEM RIGHT OUT OF THE SCHOOL. NOW WE ARE HOMELESS AND THE CHILDREN ARE STAYING WITH A RELATIVE AND GUARDIAN AND THE SCHOOL WON'T LET THEM GO TO SCHOOL THERE BUT WANT THEM TO GO TO SCHOOL WHERE BULLYING IS ALLOWED REAL SMART THINKING ON A SCHOOL STAFF.

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