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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. Hail to our Constitutional Law Expert in the Executive Office! “What you’re not paying attention to is the fact that I just took an action to change the law,” Obama said.

  2. What is this, the Ind Supreme Court thinking that there is a separation of powers and limited enumerated powers as delegated by a dusty old document? Such eighteen century thinking, so rare and unwanted by the elites in this modern age. Dictate to us, dictate over us, the massess are chanting! George Soros agrees. Time to change with times Ind Supreme Court, says all President Snows. Rule by executive decree is the new black.

  3. I made the same argument before a commission of the Indiana Supreme Court and then to the fedeal district and federal appellate courts. Fell flat. So very glad to read that some judges still beleive that evidentiary foundations matter.

  4. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

  5. During a visit where an informant with police wears audio and video, does the video necessary have to show hand to hand transaction of money and narcotics?

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