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Revocation of probation was court error

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A trial court erred when it revoked a man’s probation, because it failed to consider several factors before issuing that order, Indiana’s Court of Appeals ruled.

In James Ripps v. State of Indiana, No. 15A01-1109-CR-436, James Ripps pleaded guilty to child molesting as a Class C felony in March 2009 for molesting his son in 1997 or 1998. He was sentenced to eight years, with six years and 300 days suspended to probation.

In 2011, the state filed a probation revocation petition, alleging Ripps committed a Class D felony when he failed to comply with sex offender registry requirements. Ripps had been living within 1,000 feet of a youth program center and failed to inform all people living at his residence of his sexual conviction. Ripps admitted the violations and the trial court revoked his probation and ordered him to serve the remaining portion of his sentence in prison.

Ripps, who is terminally ill, entered an assisted living facility in March 2011 and informed the sheriff of his new address. The sheriff told Ripps that his new residence was within 1,000 feet of a public library, which qualifies as a youth program center. The state filed notice of a probation violation and arrested Ripps, and the court ordered him to serve the remainder of his sentence – two years and 266 days – in prison.

Ripps moved to correct error, contending his conviction for failure to comply with sex offender registration requirements, and the subsequent probation revocation, violated the Indiana and United States Constitutions’ prohibitions against ex post facto application of the law because the statute giving rise to such criminal act took effect in July 2006 and his qualifying offense occurred prior to that time. The trial court agreed and vacated the conviction; by that time, he had already served 1 to 1-1/2 years in prison.

The state had claimed only that Ripps committed a new crime; it had not specifically mentioned Ripps living within 1,000 feet of a youth program center.

The appellate court held that the trial court abused its discretion in revoking Ripps’ probation, given his medical condition and his attempt to adhere to the terms of his probation. The COA also held that the distance between the residential facility and the library was about 20 feet shy of 1,000 feet, and some ambiguity existed about how that distance was calculated.

 

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    Section 11. The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable search or seizure, shall not be violated; and no warrant shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the person or thing to be seized.
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    Prosecuitors are protected from prosecution and civil action even if they lie, manufacture false evidence or withold evidence important to a defendant in order to engineer a conviction, often when they know the defendant is innocent! It is no wonder prosecutors often act like brainless idiots like the prosecutor in this story!

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  1. Based on several recent Indy Star articles, I would agree that being a case worker would be really hard. You would see the worst of humanity on a daily basis; and when things go wrong guess who gets blamed??!! Not biological parent!! Best of luck to those who entered that line of work.

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  4. Law school is social control the goal to produce a social product. As such it began after the Revolution and has nearly ruined us to this day: "“Scarcely any political question arises in the United States which is not resolved, sooner or later, into a judicial question. Hence all parties are obliged to borrow, in their daily controversies, the ideas, and even the language, peculiar to judicial proceedings. As most public men [i.e., politicians] are, or have been, legal practitioners, they introduce the customs and technicalities of their profession into the management of public affairs. The jury extends this habitude to all classes. The language of the law thus becomes, in some measure, a vulgar tongue; the spirit of the law, which is produced in the schools and courts of justice, gradually penetrates beyond their walls into the bosom of society, where it descends to the lowest classes, so that at last the whole people contract the habits and the tastes of the judicial magistrate.” ? Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

  5. Attorney? Really? Or is it former attorney? Status with the Ind St Ct? Status with federal court, with SCOTUS? This is a legal newspaper, or should I look elsewhere?

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