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Trial court used wrong legal standard in revoking probation

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The Indiana Court of Appeals has ordered a trial court to use the proper legal standard to determine whether a woman violated her probation when she was arrested for theft. The trial court used a probable cause standard instead of the legal standard of a preponderance of evidence.

In Kimberly Heaton v. State of Indiana, No. 48A02-1104-CR-404, Kimberly Heaton argued that Madison Superior Judge Dennis D. Carroll used the incorrect legal standard – probable cause – when revoking her probation and ordering her to serve 18 months of her previously suspended sentence in prison. Heaton was on probation after pleading guilty to Class D felony receiving stolen property. She was later arrested for Class D felony theft and the state filed a petition to revoke her probation.

An evidentiary hearing was held on March 8, 2011, but Heaton was unable to attend due to pregnancy complications. A week later, she was able to testify. The trial court found her to be in violation of four terms of her probation.

Appellate Judge Nancy Vaidik noted that courts had interpreted Indiana’s probation revocation statute before 1983 as requiring a probable cause determination for determining whether a new offense was committed. That statute was revised in 1983 and now says that probation violations must be proven by a preponderance of the evidence. Some cases post-1983 have relied on cases that cite the old statute, but those cases are relying on out-of-date law.

“We note that today the correct legal standard in determining if a person on probation has committed another offense is a preponderance of the evidence, as is articulated in the current Indiana Code section 35-38-2-3(e),” wrote Vaidik.

The trial court here used the wrong legal standard, so the appellate court couldn’t be sure if the judge would have imposed the same 18-month sentence. The COA instructed the trial court to use the preponderance of the evidence legal standard to determine whether Heaton violated her probation with the new arrest and resentence her in light of the new findings.

 

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  1. 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.

  2. Family court judges never fail to surprise me with their irrational thinking. First of all any man who abuses his wife is not fit to be a parent. A man who can't control his anger should not be allowed around his child unsupervised period. Just because he's never been convicted of abusing his child doesn't mean he won't and maybe he hasn't but a man that has such poor judgement and control is not fit to parent without oversight - only a moron would think otherwise. Secondly, why should the mother have to pay? He's the one who made the poor decisions to abuse and he should be the one to pay the price - monetarily and otherwise. Yes it's sad that the little girl may be deprived of her father, but really what kind of father is he - the one that abuses her mother the one that can't even step up and do what's necessary on his own instead the abused mother is to pay for him???? What is this Judge thinking? Another example of how this world rewards bad behavior and punishes those who do right. Way to go Judge - NOT.

  3. Right on. Legalize it. We can take billions away from the drug cartels and help reduce violence in central America and more unwanted illegal immigration all in one fell swoop. cut taxes on the savings from needless incarcerations. On and stop eroding our fourth amendment freedom or whatever's left of it.

  4. "...a switch from crop production to hog production "does not constitute a significant change."??? REALLY?!?! Any judge that cannot see a significant difference between a plant and an animal needs to find another line of work.

  5. Why do so many lawyers get away with lying in court, Jamie Yoak?

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