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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 Some cases post-1983 have relied on cases that cite the old statute, but those cases are relying on out-of-date law.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. "So we broke with England for the right to "off" our preborn progeny at will, and allow the processing plant doing the dirty deeds (dirt cheap) to profit on the marketing of those "products of conception." I was completely maleducated on our nation's founding, it would seem. (But I know the ACLU is hard at work to remedy that, too.)" Well, you know, we're just following in the footsteps of our founders who raped women, raped slaves, raped children, maimed immigrants, sold children, stole property, broke promises, broke apart families, killed natives... You know, good God fearing down home Christian folk! :/

  2. Who gives a rats behind about all the fluffy ranking nonsense. What students having to pay off debt need to know is that all schools aren't created equal and students from many schools don't have a snowball's chance of getting a decent paying job straight out of law school. Their lowly ranked lawschool won't tell them that though. When schools start honestly (accurately) reporting *those numbers, things will get interesting real quick, and the looks on student's faces will be priceless!

  3. Whilst it may be true that Judges and Justices enjoy such freedom of time and effort, it certainly does not hold true for the average working person. To say that one must 1) take a day or a half day off work every 3 months, 2) gather a list of information including recent photographs, and 3) set up a time that is convenient for the local sheriff or other such office to complete the registry is more than a bit near-sighted. This may be procedural, and hence, in the near-sighted minds of the court, not 'punishment,' but it is in fact 'punishment.' The local sheriffs probably feel a little punished too by the overwork. Registries serve to punish the offender whilst simultaneously providing the public at large with a false sense of security. The false sense of security is dangerous to the public who may not exercise due diligence by thinking there are no offenders in their locale. In fact, the registry only informs them of those who have been convicted.

  4. Unfortunately, the court doesn't understand the difference between ebidta and adjusted ebidta as they clearly got the ruling wrong based on their misunderstanding

  5. A common refrain in the comments on this website comes from people who cannot locate attorneys willing put justice over retainers. At the same time the judiciary threatens to make pro bono work mandatory, seemingly noting the same concern. But what happens to attorneys who have the chumptzah to threatened the legal status quo in Indiana? Ask Gary Welch, ask Paul Ogden, ask me. Speak truth to power, suffer horrendously accordingly. No wonder Hoosier attorneys who want to keep in good graces merely chase the dollars ... the powers that be have no concerns as to those who are ever for sale to the highest bidder ... for those even willing to compromise for $$$ never allow either justice or constitutionality to cause them to stand up to injustice or unconstitutionality. And the bad apples in the Hoosier barrel, like this one, just keep rotting.

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