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Probation Violations


Case: State of Tennessee v. Craig Dagnan

Issues: When determining the consequence of a probation violation, must a trial court make additional findings? Is the determination subject to appellate review?

Facts: At a probation revocation hearing, the trial court found Defendant violated the terms of his probation and then put his sentence into effect.

Intermediate Decision: The intermediate court held the trial court did not abuse its discretion in putting the sentence into effect. Judge Easter, concurring, expressed his belief that once a judge finds a violation has occurred, no additional hearings or findings are required to determine the manner in which the original sentence should be served. Moreover, Judge Easter wrote that “there is no opportunity for an abuse of discretion” in such determination.

Review Granted: April 7, 2021.

Prediction: Ben thinks the Supreme Court will hold that trial courts need not conduct an additional hearing at the revocation proceeding but that the trial judge is required to make additional findings as to the consequences of the revocation. Appellate review as to the determination on consequences of the revocation will be subject to abuse of discretion standard of review. As a practical matter, this would be a high standard to overcome, but at least allows an opportunity for some level of appellate oversight as to the consequences of the revocation. Thus, if the defendant is 10 minutes late to the probation office, this could constitute a violation of probation but a full revocation of the sentence might not be appropriate. The defense attorney could thus contest (or even concede) the violation but be permitted to put on proof as to what sentence might be imposed; This separate determination would be subject to appellate review.