The Missouri appellate court in the Western District issued an opinion stating that a circuit court has authority after sentencing only as provided by statute. In this case, it said that to deny statutes governing a 120-day shock incarceration program by not listening to the Department of Corrections’ recommendation for probation, the circuit court must first hold a hearing within a certain time period. If the circuit court fails to do so, the defendant must be released on probation.
This case is about a defendant who was convicted of felony driving while intoxicated in the Circuit Court of Livingston County. The defendant was sentenced to four years’ imprisonment. He was ordered to participate in a 120-day institutional treatment program pursuant to § 559.115.3. When the court recommends and receives placement of an offender in a department of corrections 120-day program, the offender shall be released on probation if the Department of Corrections determines that the offender has successfully completed the program.
However, when the Department of Corrections reported to the circuit court that the defendant would successfully complete the 120-day program and recommended release on probation, the court denied him release without a hearing
The defendant filed a Petition for Writ of Mandamus in the appellate court, contending that the circuit court lacked authority to deny him probation, since it failed to hold a hearing on the matter within 120 days of defendant’s delivery to the Department of Corrections. Even if the 120 day deadline coincides with date of completion of the program there still needs to be a hearing. “An offender cannot be stripped of his right to a hearing on his probation determination simply because he completed the program within the time limits but on the last day of such time limits.”
The appellate court issued a writ in Mandamus, holding that (1) The circuit court lacked authority to deny the defendant probation without first holding a hearing on the matter. And,
(2) Because the court failed to hold a hearing on the matter within 120 days of defendant’s
delivery to the Department of Corrections, the court has exhausted its authority.
So a permanent writ in mandamus was issued directing the circuit court to rescind its order denying the defendant release on probation, and to enter an order releasing him on probation on appropriate conditions.
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