Rossi v. DelawareAnnotate this Case
After being out of prison for two days and while on probation, defendant Phillip Rossi was spotted at a department store with a woman who was believed to have stolen almost $200 of merchandise. Rossi was the suspected lookout. The alleged scheme culminated in Rossi supposedly returning the stolen items to a different store for store credit later that same day. Criminal charges followed soon after the incident. And although the State entered a nolle prosequi on all charges against Rossi subject to certain conditions, it nonetheless sought to revoke Rossi's probation, and the Superior Court found that Rossi had violated terms of his probation by shoplifting. On appeal, Rossi argued that the Superior Court could not find that he violated probation by shoplifting because the evidence was insufficient to support the violation. "The State's burden to prove a violation of probation is much lighter than it is to convict a defendant of a crime. All that the State must do is prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the 'conduct of the probationer has not been as good as required by the conditions of probation.'" The only piece of competent evidence the State produced showed that Rossi was at the store on the key date in question. But, the State did not introduce any competent evidence that showed a crime had been committed there. Finding that was insufficient to support revocation of Rossi's probation, the Supreme Court reversed.