Recently Decided Cases – Criminal

State of Tennessee v. Craig Dagnan (Probation Revocation) DECIDED MARCH 4, 2022

Style: State of Tennessee v. Craig Dagnan

TSC Docket Number: M2020-00152-SC-R11-CD

TSC Opinion Date:  March 4, 2022

Tennessee Supreme Court Opinion: 

https://tncourts.gov/sites/default/files/graig.dagnan.opn_.pdf

Tennessee Supreme Court Summary:

This appeal concerns the revocation of a criminal defendant’s probation. We granted Defendant’s application for permission to appeal to consider whether revocation proceedings are a one-step or two-step process on the part of the trial court and the appropriate appellate standard of review to be employed in reviewing such determinations. Defendant in this case pleaded guilty to theft of property over $1,000 but less than $10,000 and received a six-year sentence, which the trial court suspended to supervised probation. A series of revocation proceedings ensued. At Defendant’s fifth and final revocation hearing, the trial court fully revoked his probation. Defendant took issue with the consequence imposed for his probation violation; however, the Court of Criminal Appeals found no abuse of discretion on the part of the trial court and affirmed its decision. Judge Timothy L. Easter filed a separate concurring opinion in which he emphasized his belief that a trial court, after it has determined probation should be revoked, is not statutorily required to hold an additional hearing or make any additional findings to determine the manner in which the original sentence should be served. We granted Defendant’s application for permission to appeal. While we do not agree with Defendant that the trial court abused its discretion in ordering him to serve the balance of his six-year sentence in prison, we do take this opportunity to clarify and bring uniformity to the standards and principles applied by the trial courts and appellate courts in probation revocation proceedings. We conclude that a probation revocation proceeding ultimately involves a two-step inquiry. A trial court, upon finding by a preponderance of the evidence that a defendant violated the conditions of his or her probation, must determine (1) whether to revoke probation, and (2) the appropriate consequence to impose upon revocation. On appeal, the appellate court must review both decisions separately for abuse of discretion. More specifically, if the trial court has properly placed its findings on the record, the standard of review for probation revocations is abuse of discretion with a presumption of reasonableness. Considering this Court’s prior opinions establishing the appellate standard of review of a trial court’s sentencing decisions, we expressly extend the same principles to appellate review of a trial court’s decision to revoke probation. Because we conclude that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in Defendant’s case, we affirm the decision of the Court of Criminal Appeals.

Court of Criminal Appeals Decisions https://www.tncourts.gov/sites/default/files/tyshon_booker_cca_majority_opinion.pdf

https://www.tncourts.gov/sites/default/files/dagnan.craig_.opnseparate-judge_easter-concur.pdf

Court of Criminal Appeals Summary:

Craig Dagnan, Defendant, violated the conditions of probation, and the trial court revoked his probation but ordered his probation reinstated after eleven months and twenty-nine days’ incarceration. Defendant was granted a furlough from jail to attend an inpatient drug and alcohol program. After being dismissed from the inpatient program, Defendant failed to report back to jail and absconded. He was charged with escape, and a revocation warrant was issued. He was apprehended in Georgia and returned to Tennessee. Following a hearing, the trial court revoked Defendant’s probation and ordered Defendant to serve the balance of his six-year sentence. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Pre-argument Briefing:

Appellant:  May 7, 2021

Appellee:  June 7, 2021

Appellant’s Reply:  June 21, 2021

Oral Argument Date:  December 1, 2021

Link to Oral Argument Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t2DR0DgdkTw

 

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