State v. Lewis (2000)

In State v. Lewis, 752 A.2d 1144, 58 Conn. App. 153 (2000), a defendant was arrested for robbery in the first degree three weeks after he was placed on probation and his sentence to five years in prison was suspended. The defendant's probation was thereafter revoked and the defendant was committed to the custody of the commissioner of correction to serve the suspended portion of his sentence, despite argument by the defendant that he had not been told that commission of a felony while on probation would constitute a violation of probation. On appeal, the defendant argued that his due process rights were violated by the insufficient notice. Rejecting the defendant's argument, the Appellate Court of Connecticut held: Due process does not require that the defendant, in a revocation of probation proceeding based on criminal activity, be aware of the conditions of probation. "In such a case, knowledge of the criminal law is imputed to the probationer, as is an understanding that violation of the law will lead to the revocation of probation. On the other hand, where the proscribed acts are not criminal, due process mandates that the defendant cannot be subject to a forfeiture of his or her liberty for those acts unless he or she is given prior fair warning." United States v. Dane, 570 F.2d 840, 844 (9th Cir. 1977), cert. denied, 436 U.S. 959, 98 S. Ct. 3075, 57 L. Ed. 2d 1124 (1978). An inherent condition of any probation is that the probationer not commit further violations of the criminal law while on probation. "It is universally held that the commission of a felony violates a condition inherent in every probation order." State v. Roberson, 165 Conn. 73, 77, 327 A.2d 556 (1973). The general conditions of probation are presumed as an integral part of probation. State v. Wright, 24 Conn. App. 575, 577, 590 A.2d 486 (1991). . . . .Had the sentencing court merely placed the defendant on probation without saying anything further, the commission of a felony nevertheless would constitute a violation sufficient to authorize revocation of probation. State v. Hoffler, 55 Conn. App. 210, 216-17, 738 A.2d 1145, cert. denied, 251 Conn. 923, 742 A.2d 360 (1999). The defendant was not entitled to "fair warning" that committing new crimes is a violation of probation. Id., at 217, 738 A.2d 1145. We conclude, therefore, that the defendant's due process rights were not violated and that the court did not abuse its discretion in finding the defendant in violation of his probation. (Id. at 1146-47.)