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Charles v. State

Court of Appeals of Alaska

December 28, 2018


          Appeal from the Superior Court, First Judicial District, Juneau, Philip M. Pallenberg, Judge. Trial Court No. 1KE-93-730 CR

          Timothy Ayer (opening and reply brief) and Callie Patton Kim (supplemental brief and oral argument), Assistant Public Defenders, and Quinlan Steiner, Public Defender, Anchorage, for the Appellant.

          Terisia K. Chleborad, Assistant Attorney General, Office of Criminal Appeals, Anchorage, and Craig W. Richards and Jahna Lindemuth, Attorneys General, Juneau, for the Appellee.

          Before: Mannheimer, Chief Judge, Allard, Judge, and Suddock, Superior Court Judge. [*]


          ALLARD JUDGE

         James Allen Charles Jr. is a convicted sex offender. In November 2014, the superior court revoked Charles's probation based on Charles's failure to attend a polygraph appointment with his probation officer. The court imposed 9 months to serve for this violation. This was the State's second petition to revoke Charles's probation.[1]The first petition to revoke Charles's probation (based on excessive use of alcohol) had been resolved less than a month before the second petition was filed.

         On appeal, Charles argues that the superior court erred when it revoked his probation based on a single missed appointment. According to Charles, a defendant's probation can only be revoked for a "willful" violation of the terms of his probation. Charles contends that he did not knowingly or purposely miss his appointment and that the court therefore had no authority to revoke his probation.

         For the reasons explained here, we conclude that the existence of "good cause" to revoke a defendant's probation as required by AS 12.55.110(a) does not necessarily depend on the willfulness of the violation. Instead, it depends on the nature of the probation condition, the applicable mental state for the violation, and the significance of the violation with regard to the defendant's amenability to continued probation supervision.[2] In the current case, the superior court found that (1) Charles had notice of the polygraph appointment and his obligation to attend the appointment; (2) Charles failed to attend the polygraph appointment for reasons that were within his control; (3) the missed polygraph appointment and Charles's failure to keep track of this appointment were part of a larger pattern of Charles's noncompliance with and resistance to the rehabilitative aspects of probation; and (4) Charles's failure to commit to his responsibilities as a sex offender on probation and his failure to actively engage in the rehabilitative process made him dangerous to the community. These findings are well supported by the record and sufficient to constitute "good cause" to revoke Charles's probation in this case. Accordingly, we find no error in the court's decision to revoke Charles's probation.

         Background facts and prior proceedings

         In 1983, Charles was convicted of first-degree burglary and second-degree sexual assault, and sentenced to 6 years to serve. Charles's probation in that case was later revoked for selling cocaine to an undercover police agent, and he ultimately served the remainder of his sentence in prison.

         In 1994, Charles was convicted of first-degree sexual assault, second-degree sexual assault, and second-degree sexual abuse of a minor for sexually assaulting a fourteen-year-old.[3] As a second felony offender, Charles received a composite sentence of 25 years with 5 years suspended (20 years to serve) for these new crimes.

         Prior to his release on mandatory parole, Charles's parole was anticipatorily revoked for failure to participate in and complete court-ordered sex offender treatment while in prison. Following his release, Charles's parole was revoked more than once based on his failure to comply with the terms of his mandatory parole. Charles finally completed his mandatory parole in March 2014, but his supervision on probation continued.

         Charles continued to struggle with the obligations of his probation. Charles was frequently late to his appointments with his probation officer, and he would often arrive with incomplete forms or accounts of his daily activities that were not sufficiently detailed. Charles also tested positive for drug use.

         In August 2014, the State filed its first petition to revoke Charles's probation, alleging excessive use of alcohol based on a police contact in which Charles was suspected of driving under the influence. As a result of this petition to revoke, Charles's probation conditions were modified to prohibit any use of alcohol.

         A little more than a month later, on September 26, 2014, the State filed a second petition to revoke Charles's probation after Charles missed a scheduled polygraph examination. In this petition, the probation officer alleged that Charles posed a "high risk" for assaulting or abusing new victims.

         At the adjudication hearing that followed, Charles acknowledged that he had received notice of the polygraph examination from his probation officer, who had notified him by phone and who had also written down the date and time of the appointment on a business card and given it to Charles.

         According to Charles, he put the polygraph appointment card into his wallet along with an appointment card for his sex offender treatment, which was ...

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