By MELINDA WILLIAMS
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.