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Posted: 11/30/2007 3:12:32 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 12/1/2007 6:46:35 PM EDT by DKing]
John Doe is sentenced to 5 years to be served on probation for theft. He is given a $5,000 fine and the judge makes a special condition of his probation that the fine be paid within 3 years of the sentence date. In three years he has not paid one dime. His probation officer files a petition of revocation. At the hearing the probation officer testifies as follows...

"John has never made a single payment towards his fine."

The state rests on that testimony. John (pro se) refuses to testify. The judge orders his probation be revoked and he spend the rest of his sentence in jail. No other finding are made by the court.

Questions: Is this a legal sentence? May the judge revoke his probation? What effect does this have on the concept of "debtor's prisons"?

Answer: It is not a legal sentence. The judge is required to make a finding that the probationer had the ability to pay and refused in spite of this ability to pay. Link to case Since no testimony related to the probationers ability to pay was offered by probation, and no finding were entered by the court the revocation should not stand.

As to debtors prisons; that was more of a hint. If he was being sent to prison for his inability to pay that would be wrong, but if he is being sent to jail for his contempt expressed by a refusal to pay that is something completely different.
Link Posted: 11/30/2007 3:33:03 PM EDT
yes, the judge can revoke the probation. It is not debtors prison. It is a condition of release . Had he even shown a little effort towards the payments I'd be willing to bet there would be leniency from the judge and/or probation officer. Not paying a dime towards it is like saying "SCREW YOU" as a judge, I would not take kindly to that
Link Posted: 11/30/2007 3:58:11 PM EDT
Yes the judge is right. The $5000 is not a regular debt like a civil judgement, but a sentence impossed by the judge in criminal court.

Link Posted: 11/30/2007 4:25:19 PM EDT
So, what exaclty is probation, in dummy captain terms?


ByteTheBullet (-:
Link Posted: 11/30/2007 4:37:43 PM EDT
probation is an alternative to a prison sentence where you are free with limiting conditions placed upon your freedom and a probation supervisor who monitors your compliance with those conditions.

The following are the general terms and conditions of probation which may be supplemented with special terms and conditions set by the judge.

The court shall determine the terms and conditions of probation and may
provide that the probationer shall:
(1) Avoid injurious and vicious habits;

(2) Avoid persons or places of disreputable or harmful character;

(3) Report to the probation supervisor as directed;

(4) Permit the supervisor to visit him at his home or elsewhere;

(5) Work faithfully at suitable employment insofar as may be possible;

(6) Remain within a specified location;

(7) Make reparation or restitution to any aggrieved person for the damage or
loss caused by his offense, in an amount to be determined by the court.
Unless otherwise provided by law, no reparation or restitution to any
aggrieved person for the damage or loss caused by his offense shall be made
if the amount is in dispute unless the same has been adjudicated;

(8) Make reparation or restitution as reimbursement to a municipality or
county for the payment for medical care furnished the person while
incarcerated pursuant to the provisions of Article 3 of Chapter 4 of this
title. No reparation or restitution to a local governmental unit for the
provision of medical care shall be made if the amount is in dispute unless
the same has been adjudicated;

(9) Repay the costs incurred by any municipality or county for wrongful
actions by an inmate covered under the provisions of paragraph (1) of
subsection (a) of Code Section 42-4-71;

(10) Support his legal dependents to the best of his ability;

(11) Violate no local, state, or federal laws and be of general good
behavior; and

(12) If permitted to move or travel to another state, agree to waive
extradition from any jurisdiction where he may be found and not contest any
effort by any jurisdiction to return him to this state.
Link Posted: 11/30/2007 5:01:53 PM EDT
So dynamite arrows are ok?

Just messing, thanks!


ByteTheBullet (-:
Link Posted: 11/30/2007 5:03:44 PM EDT
I had a case once upon a time about black powder hunting and whether it was a firearm for the probationer.
Link Posted: 11/30/2007 5:11:45 PM EDT

I had a case once upon a time about black powder hunting and whether it was a firearm for the probationer.


I suspect the judge (if it was a bench trial) said that it was?
Link Posted: 11/30/2007 5:18:50 PM EDT
you're not entitled to a jury trial on a probation revocation. Nor do they have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt. Actually judge sided with me when I pointed to federal regulations that it was not a "firearm".
Link Posted: 12/1/2007 3:40:43 AM EDT
Right. I forgot about it being a revocation, not a criminal trial.

I know that a muzzleloader doesn't fall under the same definition as a modern firearm according to ATF rules and regs, but it still fires a projectile by means of explosive. If it is not a firearm, a convicted felon could posses one.

Did the prosecution simply not put up a good argument?
Link Posted: 12/1/2007 6:09:27 AM EDT
Rural counties have more respect of hunting then other forms of firearms use perhaps. Maybe their witness really wasn't there. Who knows. the judged seemed pretty impressed that it could be shipped through the mail to a purchaser without going through an FFL. If we had an actual hearing who knows what would have happened.
Link Posted: 12/1/2007 6:47:26 PM EDT
BTT W/ Answer.
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