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State v. Hatfield

Supreme Court of West Virginia

May 11, 2018

State of West Virginia, Plaintiff Below, Respondent
v.
Steven Kim Hatfield, Defendant Below, Petitioner

          Jefferson County CC-19-2008-F-62

          MEMORANDUM DECISION

         Petitioner Steven Kim Hatfield, by counsel David P. Skillman, appeals the order of the Circuit Court of Jefferson County, entered on June 25, 2017, revoking his term of supervised release. Respondent State of West Virginia appears by counsel Shannon Frederick Kiser.

         This Court has considered the parties' briefs and the record on appeal. The facts and legal arguments are adequately presented, and the decisional process would not be significantly aided by oral argument. Upon consideration of the standard of review, the briefs, and the record presented, the Court finds no substantial question of law and no prejudicial error. For these reasons, a memorandum decision affirming the order of the circuit court is appropriate under Rule 21 of the Rules of Appellate Procedure.

         Petitioner was convicted in 2008 of sexual abuse by a parent, guardian, or custodian in violation of West Virginia Code § 61-8D-5. He was sentenced to serve ten to twenty years in the state penitentiary, followed by a fifty-year period of supervised release. Petitioner served the requisite term of incarceration and he began his supervised release in October of 2016. The State filed a motion to revoke his supervised release in January of 2017, asserting that petitioner (1) failed to update his information on the sex offender registry, (2) failed to provide his exact address to his supervised release officer, (3) frequented a business expressly prohibited to him, (4) opened social media accounts without notifying his supervised release officer, and (5) had contact with minor children, all in violation of the terms of his supervised release agreement. The circuit court conducted a revocation hearing in June of 2017, subsequent to which it revoked petitioner's supervised release and sentenced him to serve five years in the state penitentiary on the basis that petitioner committed the first, third, and fourth of the asserted violations.

         On appeal, petitioner asserts four assignments of error: (1) the circuit court erred in not allowing petitioner to testify at the revocation hearing, thus violating petitioner's due process rights; (2) the circuit court failed to allow "certain facts" to be "developed fully" when petitioner "was not afforded an opportunity to testify"; (3) the circuit court applied the incorrect burden of proof in revoking petitioner's supervised release; and (4) the circuit court erred in deeming certain allegations admitted, despite its having instructed the State to present evidence in support of its petition to revoke supervised release.[1] We explained in State v. Hedrick, 236 W.Va. 217, 223, 778 S.E.2d 666, 672 (2015), that in cases such as this, where the conditions at issue on appeal are derivative of the original sentencing order, we review "'"under a deferential abuse of discretion standard, unless the order violates statutory or constitutional commands." Syllabus Point 1, in part, State v. Lucas, 201 W.Va. 271, 496 S.E.2d 221 (1997).' Accord syl. pt. 1, State v. James, 227 W.Va. 407, 710 S.E.2d 98 (2011)." We also explained that "'[t]his Court reviews the circuit court's final order and ultimate disposition under an abuse of discretion standard. We review challenges to findings of fact under a clearly erroneous standard; conclusions of law are reviewed de novo.' Accord syl. pt. 1, State v. Messer, 223 W.Va. 197, 672 S.E.2d 333 (2008); syl. pt. 1, State v. Davis, 199 W.Va. 84, 483 S.E.2d 84 (1996)." We further note that we consider petitioner's assignments of error in relation to the statutory directive, set forth in West Virginia Code § 62-12-26(g)(3), which authorizes the circuit court to

[r]evoke a term of supervised release and require the defendant to serve in prison all or part of the term of supervised release without credit for time previously served on supervised release if the court, pursuant to the West Virginia Rules of Criminal Procedure applicable to revocation of probation, finds by clear and convincing evidence that the defendant violated a condition of supervised release, except that a defendant whose term is revoked under this subdivision may not be required to serve more than the period of supervised release[.]

         We begin with petitioner's first and second assignments of error, both of which charge that the circuit court did not allow petitioner to testify on his own behalf. The whole of petitioner's argument in support of these assignments of error is based on an exchange that transpired at the conclusion of the State's presentation of evidence:

[The court]: Does the defense wish to offer any testimony or evidence today?
[Defense counsel to petitioner]: Can you hear okay?
[Petitioner]: Yes, sir.
[Defense counsel to petitioner]: You can?
[Petitioner]: Yes, sir.
[Defense counsel to petitioner]: ...

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