It was definitely a violation of probation…
Last week I had a case set for court and I had no idea why. It was a violation of probation on a DUI that had been resolved four months ago. There was no reason for it to be on the docket, and when I saw that it was in fact scheduled, I was confused. My client had not violated probation again. In fact, he had completed all of the terms of probation and had the proof with him. So, when I walked into court I asked the Assistant State Attorney if she knew why I was there on a case that should have been closed long ago. She said, “Oh, it looks like it is a DUI. Do you need a plea offer?” I explained that no, I didn’t need a plea offer, since the DUI had been closed several months ago. “Oh, then it must have been a violation of probation.” I explained that yes, it was a violation of probation, but that it too had been resolved several months ago. “Oh, then it must be a new violation.” I told her that it can’t be a new violation because the client has completed everything. She told me to wait and see what the probation officer has to say… which we would have to do anyway since there was no affidavit from probation indicating why my client would have been violated or a warrant.
I waited for her to walk away and asked the other Assistant State Attorney at the table to see if he could give me any insight as to why the case would have been scheduled. “It must be a violation of probation.” I re-explained that the violation had been resolved months ago. “Then it must be a new violation.” I was getting nowhere.
The judge called the case and I relayed to the judge that I was unsure why the case was on the docket because the underlying case and subsequent violation had been resolved. He looked at the court filed and said “It must be a new violation!” I then explained that it couldn’t be, as my client had all of the documents showing that he had completed all terms of probation. The judge told me to wait for the probation officer.
I waited approximately half an hour. Then in walked the probation officer. I asked her if she could shed some light as to why we were there. She had no affidavit of violation but was “sure that it is definitely a violation of probation.” Even though she had no idea why.
The judge re-called the case. The probation officer said that it was “definitely a violation” because she didn’t have any of my client’s documents showing completion of the terms. I presented the judge with signed copies of the documents, showing that probation had in fact received the documents. The judge then looked at the court’s file – copies of the documents were in there, too. Surprise Surprise. Then the probation officer took another look at her paperwork. And whoopsie, she DID have all of the documents and there was no reason for us to be there because my client had completed the terms of his probation.
But it was “definitely a violation of probation.”
I wish “told you so” was an appropriate legal argument.