Watonwan County District Court File No. 83-CR-08-604
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Cleary, Judge
This opinion will be unpublished and may not be cited except as provided by Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2012).
Considered and decided by Smith, Presiding Judge; Cleary, Judge; and Hooten, Judge.
Appellant challenges the revocation of his probation following a felony-level driving while impaired (DWI) conviction. He argues that the district court abused its discretion by revoking probation because there is insufficient evidence to support the court's conclusions that his probation violation was inexcusable and that the need for confinement outweighs the policies favoring probation. Because the district court did not abuse its discretion by revoking appellant's probation, we affirm.
Appellant David Uhde's criminal history includes six misdemeanor- and gross-misdemeanor-level DWI offenses. Appellant's seventh DWI offense was charged as a felony due to his criminal record, and appellant received a stayed sentence of 42 months for the offense. Appellant violated the terms of his probation and, just two weeks after he received the stayed sentence, the sentence was executed in May 2003.
In August 2008, while on conditional release from prison, appellant was again arrested for DWI. Appellant pleaded guilty to first-degree DWI, his eighth DWI offense and second felony-level DWI offense, and received a stayed sentence of 54 months, despite the presumption of a 54-month commitment under the Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines. Appellant was placed on probation for seven years in Watonwan County and ordered, among other things, to participate in and successfully complete a drug court program, abstain from the use of alcohol and controlled substances, refrain from having alcohol or controlled substances in his residence, and submit to random drug and alcohol testing. Appellant began to participate in drug court in Watonwan County, but in December 2009, he moved to Crow Wing County, and his probation supervision was transferred to that county. Crow Wing County would not accept appellant into its DWI or drug court programs because of his criminal record, and the requirement that appellant participate in and successfully complete drug court was suspended.
In June 2012, appellant was arrested for a domestic incident that occurred at his home, and a breath test revealed that he had a .281 alcohol concentration. A probation-violation report was filed and, during a subsequent hearing, appellant admitted that he violated the terms of his probation by failing to abstain from the use of alcohol. Appellant explained that he was sad and depressed and "made a mistake" by turning to alcohol instead of contacting his sponsor or support group. He stated that he drank "[c]lose to a liter bottle of vodka" in "a short period of time." He further stated that he had been sober for 46 months from August 2008 to June 2012. The state requested that appellant's 54-month sentence be executed, while appellant asked that he be allowed to remain on probation and receive treatment in the community. Testimony was taken from Andrea Stevens, a corrections agent who had formerly supervised appellant's probation and who recommended execution of his sentence.
The district court issued an order revoking appellant's probation and executing his 54-month sentence. In the order, the court found that the crime of DWI "involves a very serious threat to public safety" and that "there is a substantial public safety risk when a person with eight prior DWIs consumes alcohol under any circumstances particularly when [he gets] to a level which is at least four times the legal limit." The court stated that alternatives to incarceration included treatment, evaluations, and jail time, but found that "none of these requirements could reasonably guarantee public safety due to the immediacy of danger should [appellant] choose to drink to a high level and then make the inebriated decision to drive." The court also stated that "[i]t is difficult to monitor [appellant's] probation status" given that he cannot participate in drug court, but that appellant "can receive treatment in prison which could be more effectively monitored if he is confined." The court concluded that appellant violated the terms of his probation by consuming alcohol, that the probation violation was "intentional and inexcusable," that "the need for confinement outweighs the policies favoring probation," that "[t]here are no reasonably feasible alternatives to protect the public from further criminal activity," and that "[i]t would unduly depreciate the seriousness of the violation if probation were not revoked." This appeal followed.
A district court "has broad discretion in determining if there is sufficient evidence to revoke probation and should be reversed only if there is a clear abuse of that discretion." State v. Austin, 295 N.W.2d 246, 249--50 (Minn. 1980). Although a district court has broad discretion, it must make findings on specific factors before revoking probation. State v. Modtland, 695 N.W.2d 602, 605--06 (Minn. 2005). Before probation may be revoked, a district court "must 1) designate the specific condition or conditions that were violated; 2) find that the violation was intentional or inexcusable; and 3) find that the need for confinement outweighs the policies favoring probation." Austin, 295 N.W.2d at 250. Appellant challenges the district ...