in the Court of Appeals 22 February 2017.
by defendant from judgments entered 6 June 2016 by Judge
Michael R. Morgan in Randolph County Nos. 16 CRS
Attorney General Joshua H. Stein, by Assistant Attorney
General Carole Biggers, for the State.
Law PLLC, by Jason Christopher Yoder, for
Joseph Trent ("defendant") appeals from judgments
revoking his probation and activating his suspended
sentences. After careful review, we affirm the trial
court's judgments but remand for correction of clerical
March 2016 in Guilford County Superior Court, defendant
pleaded guilty to two counts of obtaining property by false
pretenses (15 CRS 80278-79) and two counts of conspiring to
obtain property by false pretenses (15 CRS 81150-51). The
trial court consolidated 15 CRS 80278 and 15 CRS 81150 into
one judgment, and 15 CRS 80279 and 15 CRS 81151 into another.
The court sentenced defendant to serve two consecutive terms
of 8 to 19 months in the custody of the North Carolina
Division of Adult Correction. The trial court suspended both
sentences, placed defendant on 36 months of supervised
probation, and ordered him to serve a 30-day active term as a
condition of special probation in 15 CRS 80278.
Defendant's probation supervision was transferred to
March 2016, defendant met with his new supervising officer
("Officer Russell") to review the conditions of his
probation. Defendant told Officer Russell that he and his
wife ("Kim") were in the process of being evicted
from their residence at 3550 Holly Ridge Drive in Trinity.
Officer Russell instructed defendant to provide an update
whenever his address changed. When defendant next met with
Officer Russell on 12 April 2016, he provided his new address
as 150 U.S. Highway 311, Lot 9 in Randleman. At the
conclusion of the meeting, Officer Russell scheduled
defendant's next appointment for 9 May 2016.
April 2016, Officer Russell made an unannounced visit to
defendant's home in Randleman. Defendant was not home,
and Kim was "very upset." Kim told Officer Russell
that she had not seen defendant since the previous day, when
he took her car and bank card without permission and left the
residence. Kim also told Officer Russell that it was
defendant's "normal pattern . . . to go out and be
gone for days on drugs." Officer Russell informed Kim
that if defendant did not come home within a few days, she
would consider him to be absconding. When Officer Russell
revisited the residence on 5 May 2016, Kim said that
defendant still had not returned, and she did not know where
May 2016, Officer Russell filed reports in both cases
alleging that defendant had committed the following willful
violations of his probation:
1. Regular Condition of Probation: "Not to abscond, by
willfully avoiding supervision or by willfully making the
supervisee's whereabouts unknown to the supervising
probation officer" in that, THE DEFENDANT LEFT HIS
RESIDENCE AT 150 U.S. HWY 311, LOT 9, RANDLEMAN ON OR ABOUT
04/23/2016, AFTER TAKING HIS WIFE'S CAR AND BANK CARD AND
HAS FAILED TO RETURN TO THE RESIDENCE SINCE THAT TIME. HIS
WHEREABOUTS ARE UNKNOWN.
2. Condition of Probation " . . . obtain prior approval
from the officer for, and notify the officer of, any change
in address . . . " in that THE DEFENDANT HAS FAILED TO
NOTIFY HIS PROBATION OFFICER OF ANY CHANGE IN ADDRESS AND DID
NOT HAVE PERMISSION TO MOVE.
did not appear for his scheduled appointment with Officer
Russell that afternoon. On 10 May 2016, Officer Russell
learned that defendant had been arrested in Guilford County
the previous day. Defendant was subsequently transferred to
the Randolph County jail, where he remained in custody until
his probation violation hearing on 6 June 2016.
hearing, Officer Russell testified for the State and
recommended that the trial court revoke defendant's
probation. After the State presented evidence, defendant
testified that during Officer Russell's unscheduled
visits to his residence, he was working in Raleigh on an
eight-day painting job. According to defendant's
testimony, Kim agreed to inform Officer Russell that he was
away. However, when defendant returned home on 6 or 7 May
2016, he discovered that Kim had been "lying" to
Officer Russell and "was trying to get [him] locked
up" because she was having an affair. During
cross-examination by the State, defendant admitted that
despite knowing that Officer Russell had visited his
residence while he was away, he did not contact her at any
time after he returned from Raleigh.
hearing's conclusion, the trial court found that the
State had proven that defendant absconded from supervision,
but not that he failed to notify Officer Russell of a change
to his address. Based on its finding that defendant willfully
absconded from supervision, the court revoked defendant's
probation and activated both of his suspended sentences.
appeal, defendant contends the trial court erred in revoking
his probation based on its finding that he willfully
absconded from supervision. We disagree.
Standard of Review
A hearing to revoke a defendant's probationary sentence
only requires that the evidence be such as to reasonably
satisfy the judge in the exercise of his sound discretion
that the defendant has willfully violated a valid condition
of probation or that the defendant has violated without
lawful excuse a valid condition upon which the sentence was
State v. Young, 190 N.C.App. 458, 459, 660 S.E.2d
574, 576 (2008) (citation and quotation marks omitted).
"[O]nce the State has presented competent evidence
establishing a defendant's failure to comply with the
terms of probation, the burden is on the defendant to
demonstrate through competent evidence an inability to comply
with the terms." State v. Talbert, 221 N.C.App.
650, 652, 727 S.E.2d 908, 910-11 (2012) (citation and
quotation marks omitted).
review the trial court's decision to revoke a
defendant's probation for abuse of discretion. State
v. Murchison, 367 N.C. 461, 464, 758 S.E.2d 356, 358
(2014). "Abuse of discretion occurs when a ruling is
manifestly unsupported by reason or is so arbitrary that it
could not have been the result of a reasoned decision."
Id. (citation, quotation marks, and brackets