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. I think the cops are doing a great job locking up criminals. The Murder rates in the inner cities are skyrocketing and you think that too any people are being incarcerated. Maybe we need to lock up more of them. We have the ACLU, BLM, NAACP, Civil right Division of the DOJ, the innocent Project etc. We have court system with an appeal process that can go on for years, with attorneys supplied by the government. I'm confused as to how that translates into the idea that the defendants are not being represented properly. Maybe the attorneys need to do more Pro-Bono work

  2. We do not have 10% of our population (which would mean about 32 million) incarcerated. It's closer to 2%.

  3. If a class action suit or other manner of retribution is possible, count me in. I have email and voicemail from the man. He colluded with opposing counsel, I am certain. My case was damaged so severely it nearly lost me everything and I am still paying dearly.

  4. There's probably a lot of blame that can be cast around for Indiana Tech's abysmal bar passage rate this last February. The folks who decided that Indiana, a state with roughly 16,000 to 18,000 attorneys, needs a fifth law school need to question the motives that drove their support of this project. Others, who have been "strong supporters" of the law school, should likewise ask themselves why they believe this institution should be supported. Is it because it fills some real need in the state? Or is it, instead, nothing more than a resume builder for those who teach there part-time? And others who make excuses for the students' poor performance, especially those who offer nothing more than conspiracy theories to back up their claims--who are they helping? What evidence do they have to support their posturing? Ultimately, though, like most everything in life, whether one succeeds or fails is entirely within one's own hands. At least one student from Indiana Tech proved this when he/she took and passed the February bar. A second Indiana Tech student proved this when they took the bar in another state and passed. As for the remaining 9 who took the bar and didn't pass (apparently, one of the students successfully appealed his/her original score), it's now up to them (and nobody else) to ensure that they pass on their second attempt. These folks should feel no shame; many currently successful practicing attorneys failed the bar exam on their first try. These same attorneys picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and got back to the rigorous study needed to ensure they would pass on their second go 'round. This is what the Indiana Tech students who didn't pass the first time need to do. Of course, none of this answers such questions as whether Indiana Tech should be accredited by the ABA, whether the school should keep its doors open, or, most importantly, whether it should have even opened its doors in the first place. Those who promoted the idea of a fifth law school in Indiana need to do a lot of soul-searching regarding their decisions. These same people should never be allowed, again, to have a say about the future of legal education in this state or anywhere else. Indiana already has four law schools. That's probably one more than it really needs. But it's more than enough.

  5. This man Steve Hubbard goes on any online post or forum he can find and tries to push his company. He said court reporters would be obsolete a few years ago, yet here we are. How does he have time to search out every single post about court reporters and even spy in private court reporting forums if his company is so successful???? Dude, get a life. And back to what this post was about, I agree that some national firms cause a huge problem.