It’s not easy to win probation violation appeals

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The Herald Bulletin on 10/1/2017 by Stuart Hirsch

ANDERSON — Lots of opportunities exist for criminal defendants in Indiana to appeal and challenge court rulings and decisions after a trial.

One of the most common reasons for appeal occurs when an offender is accused of violating probation, found guilty, and is sent to the Department of Correction to serve out their jail time.

Only a tiny fraction of the probation violation cases the Indiana Court of Appeals considers are ever successful, however.

Although details and circumstances differ from case-to-case, decisions in probation cases invariably contain statements like this:

“Probation is a matter of grace left to trial court discretion, not a right to which a criminal defendant is entitled.”

Or this:

“We begin with the premise that there is no right to probation, and a trial court has ‘discretion whether to grant it, under what conditions, and whether to revoke it if conditions are violated.’

Two recent Court of Appeals decisions in Madison County cases illustrate the difficulties offenders face if they pursue an appeal.