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Probation Violation Conviction Reversed

A court of appeals recently reversed a conviction for a probation violation, finding that being charged with another crime is not enough to alone support a probation violation conviction.

In March of 2012, the defendant in the case pleaded no contest to one count of domestic violence, a first-degree misdemeanor. The trial court found him guilty and sentenced him to six months in jail. The court then suspended the jail sentence and placed him on probation.  One of the terms of probation was: “Obey all city, state, and federal laws. Contact your Officer immediately if ticketed or arrested or placed on supervision (probation) with any other Court.”

In August of 2012, the defendant was charged with misdemeanor cruelty to animals and pleaded not guilty to the charge.  Later that day, the trial court found that he had violated the terms of his probation because he had been charged with a crime and sentenced him to serve the six month jail sentence.

He appealed.  The court of appeals noted that merely being arrested or charged with a crime is not sufficient to show a violation of probation.  Rather, the probation violation must be based on the facts supporting the charge.

Here, the only evidence reviewed by the court at the probation revocation hearing was the defendant’s admission that he was charged with misdemeanor animal cruelty. The court did not ask any other questions.  Therefore, the court reversed the probation violation conviction and ordered the trial court to re-examine the issues to determine whether the terms of probation were actually violated.

The case is reported at Toledo v. Nova, 2013-Ohio-1094.