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No ‘double jeopardy’ for probation violations

By MELINDA WILLIAMS

melinda@southwesttimes.com

 

A judge disagreed Thursday that it’s “unusually cruel” to punish a defendant in two jurisdictions for the same probation violations.

Much like a person can’t be tried twice for the same crime (double jeopardy), attorney Byron Shankman argued his client, William Scott Garcia, is “being punished twice for the same violations” if suspended sentences are revoked in Pulaski County and Harrisonburg based on the same probation offenses.

Garcia, who has convictions for unrelated crimes in each jurisdiction, was brought back to court for violating conditions of his probation: changing addresses without notifying the court and testing positive for cocaine use.

In Pulaski County alone, Garcia faced revocation of up to nine years of suspended sentences for March 2012 convictions of being a felon in possession of a firearm and being a felon in possession of ammunition. At the time of his conviction, Garcia received a total of 10 years in prison, with all but one year suspended.

Pulaski County Circuit Court Judge Marcus Long Jr. and Commonwealth’s Attorney Mike Fleenor disagreed with Shankman’s argument. Long said it isn’t uncommon for defendants to be on probation in multiple jurisdictions and find themselves facing revocations in each jurisdiction if they violate probation.

“All actions have consequences; sometimes they’re serious (consequences) and sometimes they’re not,” Fleenor said. “In this case, his violations affected him here and there (Harrisonburg).”

Fleenor said it appears “Mr. Garcia wants to do whatever Mr. Garcia wants to do.”

Long agreed Garcia “doesn’t seem to want to follow the rules” of probation. He said it is obvious the defendant has a cocaine addiction that needs to be addressed.

“I want him to get help for his drug problem,” the judge told Shankman.

To accomplish that, the judge revoked the nine years remaining on Garcia’s local convictions, then re-suspended six years. While he is incarcerated, Garcia is required to receive substance abuse treatment through the Virginia Department of Correction’s therapeutic community, if he is eligible to do so.

Comments

comments

2 Responses to No ‘double jeopardy’ for probation violations

  1. Mary A. Ryan

    March 4, 2014 at 2:29 pm

    I can’t say much about the outcome. When your on probation in multiple counties and violate its always been you violate in each county. My main comment is about the the Therapeutic Community or the BCP program Judges are sentencing people to the program and by throwing in the clause “if eligible to do so” and that’s where it gets tricky there is a lot of things that can disqualify you for the program and the way the BCP program is you have to be sentenced to a minimum of I believe 5 years and if you complete the 3 year program you can go back in front of the Judge and he can consider suspending the remaining few years. I wasn’t in the program but I knew a lot of people in it and it is a good program its hard but a good program. But certain prior charges can disqualify you for the program and they are not given the chance to do the BCP program you can do the Therapeutic Community but won’t have a chance for the Judge to consider you for early release. Best Advice for anyone that is offered the BCP program make sure your lawyer knows if you would even qualify for the program before agreeing to a plea or at sentencing.

  2. Al

    March 12, 2014 at 11:22 am

    I would have to disagree with you on that last comment . For I have been sentence twice to this programs . For one it’s a 12 month to 24 month program and u don’t go unless u are in that range if u are under 12 months u do not qualify for the program and ones you go to prison the judge looses jurisdiction . And the person ain’t got no way to go back to court . There is a law were if u do the program u can go back but it states ones u are in the states hands u are finishing the time that is giving to u . And ones u do go to prison the judge has no say all they do is recommend people for it sometimes they go some don’t .

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