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Court says Due Process Requires Evidentiary Hearings

Posted Wednesday, February 7, 2018 by Andrew Charles Huff

When a person pleads guilty to a crime but allegedly violates the terms of the agreement, is this person then entitled to an evidentiary hearing if they deny the violation?

Mr. Caleb Townsend pled guilty to two felony charges pursuant to a plea agreement. For his part, Mr. Townsend agreed to abide by all release conditions, including a requirement that he “commit no law violations” while awaiting sentencing.
However, prior to sentencing, the trial court found that he violated the terms of the plea agreement but without such a hearing. Although Mr. Townsend did not request an evidentiary hearing, he did protest his innocence.

The Appellate Court found that this evidentiary hearing right is rooted in the constitutional right to due process. As such, it cannot be waived by simply not requesting one. Therefore, the new violations were overturned and an evidentiary hearing was ordered.

WA State Court of Appeals, Division III, No. 34984-5-III State v. Townsend

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