RHODE ISLAND CRIMINAL DEFENSE A Practice Manual – Notice

RI Criminal Defense Practice Manual CoverRHODE ISLAND CRIMINAL DEFENSE
A Practice Manual, 4th Edition
© John E. MacDonald

PROBATION VIOLATION HEARINGS
Notice

SUP. CT. R. CRIM. P. 32(f): Sentence and Judgment

State v. Lanigan, 335 A.2d 917 (R.I. 1975). On the day of his violation hearing, defendant was informed he was being violated for various anti-social behaviors. However, the Attorney General failed to provide defendant with written notice specifying the exact grounds of revocation. R.I.S.C. reversed and remanded for a new hearing.

“Rule 32(f) means what it says. It should be obeyed. Adherence to its provisions will facilitate the due process requirements of proper notice.” Id. at 920.
State v. Desrosiers, 559 A.2d 641 (R.I. 1989). Defendant was convicted after trial of several felonies. On the day of sentencing, defendant was notified that prosecutors were seeking revocation of his suspended sentence. At sentencing, the trial judge revoked his suspended sentence and ordered it to run consecutive to his other sentences. R.I.S.C. affirmed.

Although defendant did not receive written notice of the revocation of probation until the morning of the sentencing, he was not prejudiced since he was afforded a full trial on the same issue of violation. Technical non-compliance with Rule 32(f) notice requirements is not a bar to prosecution if actual notice exists.
“We strongly urge prosecutors under Rhode Island law to give defendants timely written notice of probation-revocation hearings and the grounds for such hearings.” Id. at 644.
State v. Martin, 358 A.2d 679 (R.I. 1976). Defendant’s probation revocation hearing was combined with the bail hearing. While a separate 32(f) notice was not given, defendant was aware of the charges since they were listed on the complaint. R.I.S.C. refused to reverse, ruling that a finding of violation will not be vacated because of technical noncompliance with Rule 32(f) when the defendant is in fact aware of the exact grounds of violation.

State v. Godette, 751 A.2d 742 (R.I. 2000). Probation violation judge prohibited the state from amending the ground for violation (from driving a vehicle without the consent of the owner to possession of a stolen vehicle) because it did not formally amend but rather wanted to amend at trial. R.I.S.C. reversed.

The state reasonably complied with the Rule 32(f) notice requirement “because the amended notice contained a substantially related charge arising from the same occurrence, identical physical evidence, and identical witnesses to the original notice.” Id. at 745.
State v. Barber, 767 A.2d 78, 80 (R.I. 2001). Procedural due process requirements are satisfied for purposes of Rule 32(f) provided that defendant is “afforded an opportunity to dispute the facts that are offered as proof” of the violation and ” to present evidence of factors mitigating against the reimposition of the suspended sentence.”

State v. Brown, 915 A.2d 1279 (R.I. 2007). The state’s Rule 32(f) report contained a complaint specifying robbery and resisting arrest as the grounds for alleging a probation violation. However, at the hearing the state also presented evidence of an assault committed by defendant. R.I.S.C. determined that the state’s paperwork attached to the complaint contained sufficient information about the assault, such that defendant should have been on notice that it could be a focal point at the hearing.

“It is well settled that the reversal of a probation violation decision is proper if the state falls short of [its Rule 32(f)] requirement” to provide “a written statement specifying the grounds upon which action is sought.” Id. at 1282.
“The requirements of Rule 32(f) may be satisfied by reference to attached reports.” Id.
Defendant’s appeal was also waived because of his failure to object to the non-disclosure during the hearing.

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