Vermont v. AndersonAnnotate this Case
Defendant James Anderson appealed a trial court’s decision finding he violated two conditions of probation for his failure to complete sex offender programming to the satisfaction of his probation officer during the unsuspended portion of his sentence. Defendant was convicted in 2003 and sentenced nineteen to twenty years, all suspended except eleven years. The sentencing court indicated that the split sentence was intended to deliver a “severe sanction” while giving defendant an option to make good on what he claimed was remorse and what he claimed to admit doing. For this reason, the trial court explained at sentencing that the split sentence was contingent on defendant completing sex offender treatment programming during the to-serve portion of his sentence. In 2014, while serving the unsuspended portion of his sentence, defendant entered the Vermont Treatment Program for Sexual Abusers, a six-month sex offender treatment program. On June 10, 2014, defendant was suspended from the treatment program for ninety days for his failure to admit responsibility for the sexual assault underlying his conviction. At that time, defendant was advised that readmission to the treatment program required that he answer and submit to his caseworker five standard questions no later than one week prior to the end of the ninety-day suspension period. In July, defendant’s probation officer filed a complaint, alleging that defendant had violated the terms of his probation for failing to participate fully in and complete the Vermont Treatment Program for Sexual Offenders. The trial court dismissed the complaint, finding no probable cause for a violation of probation because the affidavit in support of the complaint did not include an allegation that defendant had received written notice of the conditions of his release. Consistent with V.R.Cr.P. 36, the trial court subsequently directed its clerk to prepare a probation warrant placing defendant on probation with the standard conditions, specifically including special conditions "K" and "31." Two months later, defendant's probation officer again filed a complaint that he violated the special conditions of his probation. At a merits hearing, the trial court found defendant violated the special conditions. After review of defendant's arguments on appeal of the trial court's findings, the Supreme Court concluded that defendant failed to meet his burden of persuasion that he did not violate his probation. Accordingly, the Court affirmed the trial court's judgment.