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Oregon Probation Improperly Revoked for "Action Plan" Violations

by Mark Wilson

The Oregon Court of Appeals vacated a probation revocation judgment, finding that the court improperly revoked for the violation of a special condition that was not imposed by the court.

Valora Rivera-Waddle pleaded guilty to assaulting a public safety officer and was sentenced to 60 days in jail and a 36-month term of probation. She was also ordered to pay a $200 fine.

None of Rivera-Waddle's probation conditions prohibited her from consuming alcohol. Nevertheless, her probation officer had her sign three "action plans," agreeing to abstain from intoxicants.

Rivera-Waddle ultimately consumed alcohol on multiple occasions, and the state brought probation revocation proceedings against her. The court revoked her probation and sentenced her to 30 months in prison and a 24-month post-prison supervision term.

The Court of Appeals reversed. Following State v. Maag, 41 Or App 133, 135, 597 P2d 838 (1979), the court agreed with Rivera-Waddle that probation may be revoked only for violating conditions imposed by the sentencing judge at the time of sentencing.

"Although defendant signed 'action plans' requiring her to abstain from intoxicants, that condition was imposed after sentencing by her probation officer pursuant to a catch-all provision that she . . .'abide by the direction of her supervising officer,' the court observed. "Therefore, the added condition that defendant abstain from use of intoxicants is invalid" and "was an improper basis upon which the trial court may revoke defendant's probation."

Rivera-Waddle also argued that the trial court improperly revoked probation for failing to pay financial obligations. While citing decisions requiring specific findings before revoking probation for failure to pay, the court elected not to reach that issue. "On remand, the trial court will have the opportunity to address in the first instance the other arguments that defendant urges us to review," the court declared. See: State v. Rivera-Waddle, 279 Or App 274 (Or. Ct. App. 2016).

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Related legal case

State v. Rivera-Waddle