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State v. Paul

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Knoxville

October 15, 2019


          Assigned on Briefs September 25, 2019

          Appeal from the Circuit Court for Blount County No. C25998 Tammy M. Harrington, Judge

         The Defendant, Julie Paul, appeals the trial court's order imposing confinement after finding a violation of her probation sentence. In July 2018, the Defendant pleaded guilty to felony possession of methamphetamine in exchange for an effective six-year sentence and a $2, 000 fine. The Defendant received a partially suspended sentence with 180 days of split confinement to be followed by an alcohol and drug evaluation upon her release. A probation violation warrant was issued alleging multiple violations and, after a hearing, the trial court revoked the Defendant's probation sentence, ordering additional split confinement of one year. On appeal, the Defendant asserts that the trial court abused its discretion when it ordered service of one year of confinement. After review, we affirm the trial court's judgment.

         Tenn. R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Circuit Court Affirmed

          J. Liddell Kirk, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Julie Paul.

          Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; M. Todd Ridley, Assistant Attorney General; Michael L. Flynn, District Attorney General; and Tyler B. Parks, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

          Robert W. Wedemeyer, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which Thomas T. Woodall and Robert H. Montgomery, Jr., JJ., joined.



         I. Facts

         On July 16, 2018, the Defendant entered a guilty plea to possession of less than .5 grams of methamphetamine, a Class C felony. The trial court sentenced the Defendant to serve a six-year sentence with five years and six months of the sentence to be served on supervised probation. On October 30, 2018, the Defendant's probation officer filed a probation violation report, alleging that the Defendant had violated the terms of her probation sentence by failing to: report, complete the court-ordered alcohol and drug assessment, maintain or seek employment, live at her stated address, and make court-ordered payments. The trial court issued a probation violation warrant, and a hearing was held on the allegations.

         At the probation violation hearing, the Defendant admitted to violating the terms of her probation. Based upon her admission, the trial court found the Defendant had violated the conditions of her probation and revoked her probation sentence. The parties then presented the following evidence: The Defendant testified that she was released from jail on September 24, 2018, and attended a probation orientation. She agreed that her probation officer reviewed the "rules of probation" with her and that she understood the rules.

         The Defendant agreed that she failed to report less than a month after the orientation. She stated that she did not report because she "went to get [her] disability started again." About her failure to complete an alcohol and drug assessment, she said she forgot to do it. The Defendant said that she had reported her sister's address as her place of residence but that she was displaced when her sister's landlord "come down from North Carolina . . . and had to stay and stuff." According to the Defendant, the landlord told the Defendant to leave, so she moved several doors down to a friend's house. She recognized that "[i]t was bad on [her] part" not to notify her probation officer of a residence change. The Defendant confirmed that she was arrested on the probation violation warrant on November 21, 2018, and had been incarcerated ever since. The Defendant denied having "a substance abuse problem."

         The Defendant testified that, upon her release from jail, she believed she would be receiving her disability check again. She stated that she believed staying with her sister was unreliable given her previous experience but she offered that her "neighbor," a woman who resided in a house near her sister's house, had offered her a place to stay. The Defendant stated that she had a driver's license but did not own a car. She said that the "neighbor" who had offered her a place to live also offered to drive her "to probation or whatever." She attributed this to the fact that the neighbor was "a real Christian lady" who knew that the Defendant had "had a hard time."

         On cross-examination, the Defendant agreed that she had a prior conviction for theft that involved a probation sentence. The Defendant violated that probation sentence twice. She further agreed that she had four other convictions for which she received probation sentences and that she violated those probation sentences and was required to serve "some jail time." The Defendant acknowledged that she could have "turned [her]self in" on the violations at ...

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