North Florida Court Did Not Err in Ending Supervised Release for Domestic Violence – U.S. v. Johnson

May 9, 2012 by David S. Seltzer

Defense of domestic violence charges is a common area of practice for south Florida criminal defense lawyers like me. Domestic violence charges can be especially troublesome because they often come with extra restrictions on the defendant’s movements and legal rights, including a court order to stay away from the accuser and, often, the defendant’s own home. And if the defendant was already in legal trouble or had a family court matter pending, he or she may face further penalties for a domestic violence conviction. That was the case in United States v. Johnson, in which defendant Jyrone Jeremiah Johnson of northern Florida challenged the termination of his supervised release after a conviction for “a single incident of extreme domestic violence.” The Eleventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ultimately upheld that decision.

Johnson was convicted of battering an unnamed woman over the course of several hours over an evening, in an incident that included stepping on her hair to hold her still while he punched her, then dragging her to a sink when she began to cough up blood. Among the physical evidence later found by probation officers were multiple bruises, the imprint of a tennis shoe on her chest and a potentially broken collarbone. After the assault, she sought permission to return to a halfway house where she had lived before receiving permission to live with Johnson. Johnson himself was called to a hearing to decide whether this incident justified revocation of his supervised release. He denied responsibility for the incident. The court ultimately decided that the supervised release should be revoked, which returned him to prison, saying it had no doubt that Johnson had violated the terms of his release.

Johnson appealed the revocation, but the Eleventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found no reason not to affirm the district court’s decisions. It noted that at the hearing, Johnson was represented by an attorney. Neither that attorney nor Johnson himself showed signs of failing to understand, or objecting to, the proceedings, the court said. In addition, the Eleventh said the district court’s ruling was clear, particularly given the simplicity of the issue presented to it. Applying reasoning from caselaw on revocation of probation, the court ruled that the district court met its requirement under the Constitution to give Johnson a written statement explaining the reasons for revoking his supervised release, including the evidence relied on. Thus, it upheld the district court’s decision.

As a Fort Lauderdale domestic violence defense attorney, I represent people who are fighting this kind of supervised release or probation revocation hearing, as well as those who are seeking probation or supervised release for the original conviction. It’s important for defendants to realize that the time they will serve after revocation is based on the original conviction, not on the offense for which the release or probation was revoked. Thus, something as minor as DUI or possession of drug paraphernalia is enough to land the defendant in prison for a substantial number of years, even though the offense itself may carry little or no jail time. That’s one reason why it’s vital for defendants to get the help of an experienced Miami probation violation defense lawyer as soon as possible after being accused of a violation that could lead to revocation.

If you’re accused of domestic violence or anything else that could hurt your probation or supervised release, don’t wait to call Seltzer Law, P.A., to discuss how we can help. For a free, confidential case evaluation, send us a message online or call toll-free at 1-888-THE-DEFENSE (1-888-843-3333).

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