A man whose probation was revoked without an evidentiary hearing after he walked away from an inpatient alcohol treatment program imposed by the court will receive a new hearing.
The Indiana Court of Appeals ruled in Paul Sparks v. State of Indiana, 49A02-1207-CR-593, that Marion Superior Judge Robert Altice denied Sparks’ due process rights when the court ordered him to serve the five-year sentence for convictions of battery and invasion of privacy that had been suspended.
“An evidentiary hearing did not take place in this case,” Chief Judge Margret Robb wrote in the unanimous opinion. “While Sparks admitted to violating a term of his probation, this admission came following the trial court’s comment that it was inclined to give him four years if he accepted responsibility for his actions.
“The trial court’s comment at the outset of the hearing overlooks the fact that the probationer has a constitutional and statutory right to an evidentiary hearing in which the State proves the probation violation by a preponderance of the evidence before the trial court decides whether a condition of probation was violated,” Robb wrote. “A trial court’s failure to hold an evidentiary hearing prior to revoking probation requires reversal even if there is sufficient evidence in the record to support the revocation of the probation.”