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State v. Hutchinson

Court of Appeals of Utah

January 9, 2020

State of Utah, Appellee,
v.
Jordan Keith Hutchinson, Appellant.

          Fourth District Court, Provo Department The Honorable Thomas Low Nos. 121403421, 141401527, 151400548, 171400633

          Jennifer Foresta, Margaret P. Lindsay, and Douglas J. Thompson, Attorneys for Appellant

          Sean D. Reyes and Thomas Brunker, Attorneys for Appellee

          Judge Ryan M. Harris authored this Opinion, in which Judges Gregory K. Orme and Kate Appleby concurred.

          HARRIS, JUDGE.

         ¶1 At least since 2012, Jordan Keith Hutchinson has had a drug problem. He pled guilty to his first drug-related offense in 2013, and then spent the next five years on probation, during which time Hutchinson was given the opportunity to participate in drug court and several other addiction treatment programs. None seemed to work, though, and Hutchinson racked up twenty-four probation violations, including the commission of several new drug offenses, even two for distribution. By 2018, the district court had seen enough, and revoked Hutchinson's probation and imposed his original prison sentences. Hutchinson appeals that decision, asserting that our legislature's adoption of the 2015 Justice Reinvestment Initiative (JRI) changed the probation landscape such that the district court's decision was an abuse of discretion. While we do not disagree that JRI, in some ways, did change the probation landscape, we conclude that the district court, in this particular case, did not abuse its discretion by revoking Hutchinson's probation and sending him to prison, and we therefore affirm.

         BACKGROUND[1]

         2012 Charges

         ¶2 In December 2012, police and paramedics were called to a residence where they found twenty-four-year-old Hutchinson on the floor, unconscious and barely breathing. Hutchinson had a still-bleeding injection site on his arm; his family reported that he had probably injected heroin. Paramedics transported Hutchinson to a local hospital. Shortly thereafter, Hutchinson snuck out of the hospital, taking approximately $500 worth of hospital property with him. Related to these events, the State charged Hutchinson with possession or use of a controlled substance, a second-degree felony, as well as misdemeanor counts of theft and possession of drug paraphernalia.

         ¶3 In February 2013, Hutchinson pled guilty to all three charges, and the district court agreed to hold those pleas in abeyance and refer Hutchinson to drug court. But the court ordered Hutchinson "to remain in custody until treatment space becomes available" and to "comply with all the terms and conditions of the Plea in Abeyance Agreement."

         ¶4 Just five weeks later, Hutchinson voluntarily opted out of drug court. As a result, the district court revoked his plea in abeyance and entered his guilty pleas. The court imposed a prison sentence of one-to-fifteen years on the second-degree felony count, and jail sentences on the misdemeanor counts, but suspended those terms of incarceration and placed Hutchinson on probation, to be supervised by Adult Probation and Parole (AP&P). Per the probation conditions, Hutchinson was ordered to, among other things, "have no further violations during the probation period," "pay fines, fees, restitution, and/or supervision fees," and "successfully complete a substance abuse assessment and all recommended treatment."

         ¶5 Shortly thereafter, Hutchinson was screened for and accepted into the Drug Offender Reform Act (DORA) program for substance abuse treatment. AP&P described Hutchinson as exhibiting "exemplary performance and attitude toward treatment," and he was deemed to have successfully completed the DORA program in January 2014.

         ¶6 Just a few months later, however, in May 2014, an AP&P agent was conducting a routine visit at Hutchinson's house, and noticed that "Hutchinson's pupils were very constricted and had the appearance of pin holes." The agent asked Hutchinson "if he had been doing drugs," and Hutchinson admitted "that he had been using every few days for the past week and a half up until [that] morning." Based on this admission, the agent performed a search of Hutchinson's room. The search uncovered twenty-one baggies of black tar heroin, fourteen baggies of crack cocaine, four baggies of cocaine, and four syringes. Hutchinson told the agent that he had obtained the drugs "so he could try and sell them because he was broke."

         ¶7 Following this incident, the agent filed a probation violation report with the district court. The report alleged that Hutchinson had committed seven separate violations of the terms and conditions of his probation: (1) possession of heroin, (2) possession of cocaine, (3) possession of crack cocaine, (4) possession of drug paraphernalia, (5) use of a controlled substance (heroin), (6) failure to pay supervision fees, and (7) failures to pay fines and fees. The district court held an evidentiary hearing on the matter, during which Hutchinson admitted to five probation violations (1, 2, 5, 6, 7), and the remaining two allegations (3, 4) were dismissed. The court revoked and reinstated Hutchinson's probation, but ordered Hutchinson to serve sixty days in jail as a penalty for his probation violations.

         2014 Charges

         ¶8 Based on the "extensive" amount of drugs and Hutchinson "openly admitt[ing] he had them for the sole purpose of distribution," an AP&P supervisor "decided that new charges needed to be filed" against Hutchinson "in addition to the probation violation." Soon thereafter, the State charged Hutchinson with four new offenses, including three first-degree felony counts of possession with intent to distribute heroin, cocaine, and crack cocaine. In July 2014, Hutchinson pled guilty to two counts of possession with intent to distribute (for heroin and cocaine), both reduced to second-degree felonies; the third charge was dismissed. On these new counts, the district court sentenced Hutchinson to terms of one-to-fifteen years in prison, but again suspended those sentences and placed Hutchinson on probation, governed by the same conditions as before.

         ¶9 About six months later, in 2015, AP&P filed a probation violation report alleging that Hutchinson had again violated his probation, this time in fourteen different ways. Hutchinson eventually admitted to eleven new violations, including the following: failing to submit to mandatory drug tests, possessing heroin and methamphetamine, theft, driving on a suspended license, and operating a vehicle without insurance. The district court again revoked and reinstated Hutchinson's probation, but this time ordered him to serve 300 days in jail, with credit for time ...


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