COA: Indiana right to counsel doesn’t extend to revocation hearings

The Indiana Court of Appeals has affirmed the revocation of a woman’s home detention in favor of incarceration, declining to make the “profound statement” that the Indiana constitutional right to counsel extends to revocation hearings.

Victoria Arrowood, a passenger in a vehicle stopped for a traffic infraction in Shelby County, was charged with Level 6 felony unlawful possession of a syringe and Level 6 felony possession of methamphetamine after law enforcement found the drugs and paraphernalia in her possession during the stop. After agreeing to plead guilty to the meth charge, the Shelby Superior Court sentenced Arrowood to 545 days in community corrections to be served on home detention.

But Arrowood’s placement was revoked a few months later when she was alleged by the state to have violated her placement by testing positive for meth, morphine, fentanyl and cannabinoids. The trial court ordered her to serve the balance of her sentence in incarceration.

Arrowood appealed the revocation, arguing that pursuant to Article 1, Section 13 of the Indiana Constitution, she had a right to the effective assistance of counsel at the revocation hearing. An appellate panel disagreed with that assertion, instead finding that because revocation hearings are civil in nature, the right to counsel in criminal proceedings guaranteed by the Indiana Constitution “simply does not apply.”

“We do not read (Vicory v. State, 802 N.E.2d 426 (Ind. 2004)) as holding that Article 1, Section 13 extends to revocation hearings. Had the Vicory court intended to make such a profound statement, we believe it would have done so clearly, not by mere implication,” Judge Paul Mathias wrote for the panel. “Indeed, the Supreme Court later noted that its holding in Vicory was merely ‘informed’ by the right to be heard by oneself under Article 1, Section 13; it did not hold that the right to allocution was guaranteed by Article 1, Section 13. It certainly did not hold that the right to counsel extended to revocation hearings.

“… Accordingly, we decline to hold that the right to counsel at all criminal prosecutions, as guaranteed by Article 1, Section 13, extends to revocation hearings, which are civil, not criminal, in nature. Instead, revocation proceedings, like post-conviction proceedings, are governed by principles of due process,” Mathias concluded.

Under the more lenient due-process standard set forth in Jordan v. State, 60 N.E.3d 1062, 1068 (Ind. Ct. App. 2016), and Baum v. State, 533 N.E.2d 1200, 1201 (Ind.1989), the panel held that “it is apparent that Arrowood was not denied her right to counsel.”

The case is Victoria V. Arrowood v. State of Indiana, 20A-CR-667.

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