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State v. Hill

Court of Appeals of Minnesota

December 30, 2013

State of Minnesota, Respondent,
v.
Gregory Scott Hill, Appellant.

UNPUBLISHED OPINION

Hennepin County District Court File No. 27-CR-11-4819.

Lori Swanson, Attorney General, St. Paul, Minnesota; and Michael O. Freeman, Hennepin County Attorney, Jean Burdorf, Assistant County Attorney, Minneapolis, Minnesota (for respondent)

Cathryn Middlebrook, Chief Appellate Public Defender, Erik Withall, Assistant Public Defender, St. Paul, Minnesota (for appellant)

Considered and decided by Rodenberg, Presiding Judge; Larkin, Judge; and Chutich, Judge.

CHUTICH, Judge.

Appellant Gregory Hill asserts that the district court abused its discretion when it revoked his probation by making improper findings on the third Austin factor. Because the district court properly exercised its broad discretion in executing Hill's prison sentence, we affirm.

FACTS

Appellant Gregory Hill pleaded guilty to two counts of first-degree DWI and one count of driving after cancellation in August 2011. The district court sentenced Hill to a stayed sentence of 84 months in prison, followed by five years of conditional release. Hill's sentence was stayed for five years. At the time of sentencing, Hill had a criminal history score of seven, so his probationary sentence was a downward dispositional departure. As part of his probation conditions, the district court instructed Hill to abstain from using alcohol and illegal drugs.

In November 2012, Hill was arrested for obstructing legal process, and he tested positive for alcohol and cocaine. At the February 2013 probation revocation hearing, Hill waived his right to a hearing and admitted to using alcohol and cocaine. The district court revoked Hill's probation and executed his 84-month prison sentence with five years of conditional release. This appeal followed.

DECISION

Hill contends that the district court abused its discretion by making improper findings on the third Austin factor, relating to the need for confinement. He explains that "[c]onfinement was not necessary to protect the public from further criminal activity" because "nothing in the record" shows that he would reoffend. Hill also asserts that the district court did not properly consider his zealous participation in treatment and that he "completed multiple treatment programs." Hill's argument is unavailing.

After an offender violates probation, the district court may continue probation, impose intermediate sanctions, or revoke probation and execute the stayed sentence. Minn. Stat. § 609.14, subd. 3 (2010). "The trial 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).

Before revoking probation, the 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 need for confinement outweighs the policies favoring probation." Id. at 250; see also State v. Modtland, 695 N.W.2d 602, 606–08 (Minn. 2005) (reaffirming Austin's holding). The district court should not offer "general, non-specific reasons for revocation" in making these findings. Modtland, 695 N.W.2d at 608. Rather, the ...


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