Court has Authority to Revoke Probation After Violation of Terms

November 5, 2013

The appellant, Joseph W. Jones, pleaded guilty to sale of a Schedule II controlled substance and received a three-year sentence that was suspended to probation. At an evidentiary hearing, probation officer Tiffany Lawson testified that she started supervising Jones’s probation in 2011. As conditions of his probation, Jones was required to complete an alcohol and drug assessment, perform 100 hours of community service, and pay restitution and a fine. She discussed the terms of probation with him. However, Jones later violated his probation by testing positive for methamphetamine on a drug screen.

Lawson testified that she questioned Jones about the results of the drug screen, and he admitted to using methamphetamine “a couple of days prior” to the drug screen. The trial court revoked appellant’s probation.

In ruling on Jones’s probation revocation, the trial court noted that the State had provided information on his prior criminal offenses, including aggravated burglary and initiation of the manufacture of methamphetamine.  Jones received suspended sentences for these convictions. The trial court also commented:

The best indicator of future behavior is past behavior. [Your] [p]sat behavior is ridiculously bad[,] and you come back as a probation violation on a simple three year sentence for using methamphetamine, a clear indication you’ve got some problems. The court doesn’t have any question about that….

The trial court revoked his probation, and he appealed. Jones alleged that the trial court should have extended his probation rather than ordering the execution of his sentence.

Judge Roger A. Page of the Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee at Nashville wrote that the revocation of a suspended sentence rests in the discretion of the trial judge. In determining whether to revoke probation, it is not necessary that the trial judge find that a violation of the terms of the probation has occurred beyond a reasonable doubt, Judge Page held. If the trial court finds by a preponderance of the evidence (a lower standard) that the defendant violated the conditions of probation, the court has the authority to:

(1) order confinement;

(2) order execution of the sentence as originally entered;

(3) return the defendant to probation on appropriate modified conditions; or

(4) extend the defendant’s probationary period by up to two years.  The appellate standard of review of a probation revocation is abuse of discretion.

Judge Page said that the evidence was conclusive in establishing that Jones violated one of the conditions of probation by using illegal drugs. In addition, Jones had several previous suspended sentences but had multiple violations of probation. Jones’s prior history of violations didn’t support a further reprieve from incarceration. The trial court’s decision to order Jones to serve his sentence was affirmed.

State v. Jones, Slip Copy, 2013 WL 5628772 (Tenn.Crim.App. Oct. 14, 2013.)

Questions about revoked probation or other issues in a criminal case?

Kevin Patterson has been providing professional legal services to individuals and businesses throughout the greater Memphis area since 1983.  Kevin will treat your legal issue with the dedicated service and attention it deserves. Call Kevin at (901) 300-4820 or e-mail him at kpatterson@kgplawfirm.com to talk to him about your legal matter.

 

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