Monday, July 23, 2012

KY COA July 20 - Southwood - Probation Revocation

Southwood v. Commonwealth, 2011-CA-001277-MR (Decided July 20, 2012; To be published)

The Court of Appeals found that there was no abuse of discretion where the trial court did not make a specific finding of fact that the defendant could not be appropriately managed in the community.

Leslie Southwood pled guilty to arson in the second degree.  About a month later he was sentenced to twenty years probated for five years. A condition was imposed that Southwood’s probation included that he remain in the area of supervision within Breathitt County and that he would commit no new offense while on probation.  Southwood was later arrested in Perry County and charged with possession of a controlled substance in the first degree, carrying a concealed deadly weapon, and operating a motor vehicle under the influence.

At the probation revocation hearing, the only witnessed called was the probation officer. The probation officer testified that Southwood was not supposed to leave the county except for emergency medical treatment. The court was also made aware of a pending assault charge against Southwood  in Breathitt District Court for allegedly assaulting his mother.  It was further suggested that he may have been involved in a shooting incident involving his brother.  The trial court revoked Southwood’s probation.

Southwood filed a motion to alter, amend or vacate the order pursuant to KRS. 439.3106, pursuant to a statute that had been enacted on June 8, 2011, two days prior to his revocation hearing.  Southwood argued that the statute required the court to make a finding that he could not “be appropriately managed in the community.” The trial court found that they very nature of the pending charges in Perry County were sufficient to revoke his probation and deny the motion.

The Court of Appeals Affirmed, citing KRS 439.3106(2) discussing severity of the violation behavior and risk of future criminal behavior. The Court further noted that Commonwealth v. Alleman, 306 S.W.3d 484, 488 (Ky. 2010) was applicable to the instant case, where the sole testimony introduced was that the defendant absconded.

Contributed by Jason Apollo Hart