Christopher Shane Melton v. State of Indiana (mem. dec.) ( 2016 )

  • MEMORANDUM DECISION                                              FILED
                                                                Jun 15 2016, 6:31 am
    Pursuant to Ind. Appellate Rule 65(D),                           CLERK
                                                                 Indiana Supreme Court
    this Memorandum Decision shall not be                           Court of Appeals
                                                                      and Tax Court
    regarded as precedent or cited before any
    court except for the purpose of establishing
    the defense of res judicata, collateral
    estoppel, or the law of the case.
    ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT                                   ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE
    Paul J. Podlejski                                        Gregory F. Zoeller
    Anderson, Indiana                                        Attorney General of Indiana
                                                             Richard C. Webster
                                                             Deputy Attorney General
                                                             Indianapolis, Indiana
                                               IN THE
    Christopher Shane Melton,                                June 15, 2016
    Appellant-Defendant,                                     Court of Appeals Case No.
            v.                                               Appeal from the
                                                             Madison Circuit Court
    State of Indiana,                                        The Honorable
    Appellee-Plaintiff.                                      David A. Happe, Judge
                                                             Trial Court Cause No.
    Kirsch, Judge.
    Court of Appeals of Indiana | Memorandum Decision 48A05-1508-CR-1204 | June 15, 2016   Page 1 of 6
    [1]   Christopher Shane Melton (“Melton”) appeals the revocation of his probation
          contending that the trial court abused its discretion by ordering him to serve the
          previously suspended sentence.
    [2]   We affirm.
                                     Facts and Procedural History
    [3]   In July 2013, Melton pleaded guilty to one count of dissemination of material
          harmful to minors as a Class D felony. He was sentenced to three years in the
          Department of Correction (“DOC”), with six months executed and thirty
          months suspended to supervised probation.
    [4]   On June 10, 2015, the State filed a Notice of Violation of Probation (“the
          Notice”), alleging that Melton had not complied with the following conditions
          of his probation:
                  a) Failure to obtain GED and provide written verification to
                     Probation Department;
                  b) Failure to participate in sex offender treatment through
                     facility/program approved by Probation Department, comply
                     with all treatment recommendations, and provide written
                     verification of successful completion to the Probation
                  c) Failure to pay court costs in the amount of $168.00;
                  d) Failure to pay restitution in the amount of $10.00;
          Court of Appeals of Indiana | Memorandum Decision 48A05-1508-CR-1204 | June 15, 2016   Page 2 of 6
                   e) Failure to pay probation fees; and
                   f) Failure to abstain from the use of alcohol/illicit drug during
                      the period of probation.
          Amended Appellant’s App. at 112.
    [5]   During the revocation hearing, the State introduced evidence that Melton failed
          a drug screen by testing positive for benzodiazepine (“Xanax”) in March 2015
          and gave his parole officers Steven Christman (“Christman”) and Lauren
          Roberts (“Roberts”) conflicting accounts regarding the cause for the positive
          drug screen. Melton told Christman that his ex-wife drugged him, and he told
          Roberts the Xanax was administered to him through an IV while hospitalized
          for hernia procedures on two different occasions.1 Tr. at 51, 108. Melton
          admitted to Roberts that he did use Xanax without a valid prescription. Id. at
          73. There was no evidence to show that Melton was treated with Xanax while
          in the hospital or via a valid prescription.
    [6]   Kari Byrd (“Byrd”), a counselor for sex offender therapy provider, New Life,
          testified that Melton was discharged from treatment in June of 2015 without
          success because he refused to take full responsibility for having committed the
          offense, which she stated was the foundation of treatment. Id. at 35, 93.
            The record contains conflicting evidence regarding whether the hernia procedure was before or after the
          failed drug test. Christman testified the hernia procedure took place in April, and Melton testified that it
          occurred in March. Tr. 73-75, 86, 91-92.
          Court of Appeals of Indiana | Memorandum Decision 48A05-1508-CR-1204 | June 15, 2016                 Page 3 of 6
          Christman testified that Melton occasionally accepted minimal responsibility,
          but only when confronted with the threat of being removed from the sex
          offender treatment program for lack of taking responsibility for his charge. Id.
          at 57. Byrd also cited Melton’s failed drug screen as a reason for his removal.
          Id. at 35.
    [7]   Melton admitted that he did not have his GED at the time of the hearing, but
          thought he would be able to submit the verification closer to the end of his
          probation period. Melton also admitted that he owed the outstanding balances
          for the court costs and restitution, and the parties agreed that the probation fee
          was paid. At the conclusion of the hearing, the trial court found the allegations
          in the Notice of Violation to be true. Melton’s probation was revoked, and he
          was ordered to serve the previously suspended thirty-month potion of his
          sentence. Melton now appeals.
                                         Discussion and Decision
    [8]   Melton argues that the trial court abused its discretion when it revoked his
          suspended thirty-month sentence and ordered him to serve it in the DOC. He
          contends that not enough weight was given to the fact that this was his first
          violation. Melton argues that an appropriate sanction is based upon the
          severity of the violation, which would have required a determination of whether
          the defendant committed a new criminal offense. Heaton v. State 
    984 N.E.2d 614
     (Ind. 2013). He contends that he had not committed a new criminal
          offense; therefore, a full revocation of his previously suspended sentence was
          unwarranted, and a more appropriate sanction would have been to extend his
          Court of Appeals of Indiana | Memorandum Decision 48A05-1508-CR-1204 | June 15, 2016   Page 4 of 6
           probation, place him on in-home detention, or allow him to serve his sanction
           in the work release facility. He also asserts that the revocation of his probation
           and order to serve the entire sentence was an abuse of discretion because the
           evidence in the record reflected that he had remained gainfully employed and
           that his employers valued him. Prewitt v. State, 
    878 N.E.2d 184
     (Ind. 2007).
    [9]    The decision to revoke probation is within the sole discretion of the trial court.
           Woods v. State, 
    892 N.E.2d 637
    , 639 (Ind. 2008). A trial court’s sentencing
           decisions for probation violations are reviewable using the abuse of discretion
           standard, and under an abuse of discretion standard, the trial court’s decision
           can be affirmed if there is any evidence to support the decision. Ault v. State,
    705 N.E.2d 1078
    , (Ind. Ct. App. 1999). The trial court has the right to accept
           any witness’s account of the facts and disbelieve the account of any other
           witness. Menifee v. State, 
    600 N.E.2d 967
    , 970 (Ind. Ct. App. 1992), clarified on
           denial of reh’g, 
    605 N.E.2d 1207
     (Ind. Ct. App. 1993) (citing Hunter v. State, 
    172 Ind. App. 397
    360 N.E.2d 588
    , 604 (1977)). An abuse of discretion occurs
           where the decision is clearly against the logic and effect of the facts and
           circumstances. Guillen v. State, 
    829 N.E.2d 142
    , 145 (Ind. Ct. App. 2005).
    [10]   Here, the trial court did not abuse its discretion when it revoked Melton’s
           probation and ordered him to serve his suspended sentence in the DOC. The
           trial court was not obligated to balance any aggravating or mitigating
           circumstances when imposing a sentence in a probation revocation proceeding.
           Treece v. State, 
    10 N.E.3d 52
    , 59-60 (Ind. Ct. App. 2014).
           Court of Appeals of Indiana | Memorandum Decision 48A05-1508-CR-1204 | June 15, 2016   Page 5 of 6
    [11]   The violations of a single condition of probation is sufficient to revoke
           probation. Beeler v. State, 959 N.E.2d 828,831 (Ind. Ct. App. 2011). The
           evidence presented at the hearing established that Melton did not successfully
           complete the sex offender treatment, tested positive for Xanax, and failed to pay
           all fees ordered. Evidence that Melton had not previously violated his
           probation or that he was partially compliant is not dispositive. Restrictions are
           designed to ensure that the probation serves as a period of genuine
           rehabilitation and that a probationer living within the community does not
           harm the public. Bonner v. State, 
    776 N.E.2d 1244
    , 1247 (Ind. Ct. App. 2002).
           Here, there was evidence before the trial court that Melton violated his
           probation by using Xanax and did not complete sex offender therapy
           successfully, raising an issue whether he was trying to achieve genuine
           rehabilitation. Revocation of Melton’s previously suspended sentence did not
           go against the logic and effect of the facts and circumstances surrounding his
           violation, and the trial court’s order revoking probation and sentencing him to
           the DOC for the suspended thirty-month sentence was not an abuse of
    [12]   Affirmed.
    [13]   Riley, J., and Pyle, J., concur.
           Court of Appeals of Indiana | Memorandum Decision 48A05-1508-CR-1204 | June 15, 2016   Page 6 of 6