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State v. Andaz

Court of Appeals of Connecticut

April 17, 2018

STATE OF CONNECTICUT
v.
DAVE ANDAZ

          Argued January 2, 2018

         Procedural History

         Substitute information charging the defendant with violation of probation, brought to the Superior Court in the judicial district of New Haven and tried to the court, O'Keefe, J.; judgment revoking the defendant's probation, from which the defendant appealed to this court. Affirmed.

          Peter Tsimbidaros, assigned counsel, with whom, on the brief, were Christopher Duby, assigned counsel, and Robert O'Brien, assigned counsel, for the appellant (defendant).

          Linda Currie-Zeffiro, assistant state's attorney, with whom, on the brief, were Michael Dearington, former state's attorney, and Sean McGuinness, assistant state's attorney, for the appellee (state).

          Keller, Bright and Pellegrino, Js.

          OPINION

          PELLEGRINO, J.

         The defendant, Dave Andaz, also known as David Polek, [1] appeals from the judgment of the trial court finding him in violation of his probation pursuant to General Statutes § 53a-32.[2] On appeal, the defendant claims that his due process right to fair notice of the charges against him was violated by the state's filing of a substitute information changing the underlying basis for his violation of probation six days prior to his probation revocation hearing. We disagree and, accordingly, affirm the judgment of the trial court.

         The following facts and procedural history are relevant to our resolution of the issue on appeal. On April 29, 2014, the defendant was convicted of possession of a weapon or dangerous instrument in a correctional institution in violation of General Statutes § 53a-174a and sentenced to six years incarceration, execution suspended after thirteen months, followed by three years of probation. The court imposed and the defendant agreed to the standard conditions of probation, which included, inter alia, that he not violate any state or federal criminal law. The period of probation began on February 27, 2015. Thereafter, on May 5, 2015, the defendant was arrested following an incident on the New Haven green when he and two other individuals were seen assaulting a student from Yale University. On July 29, 2015, the defendant was arrested when he was found in an abandoned building at 301 George Street in New Haven and charged with burglary in the third degree in violation of General Statutes § 53a-103, criminal trespass in the third degree in violation of General Statutes § 53a-109, and larceny in the sixth degree in violation of General Statutes § 53a-125b.

         On July 30, 2015, the defendant was arrested on a warrant for a violation of his probation pursuant to § 53a-32. As the basis for his violation, the warrant cited the July 29, 2015 arrest as a violation of the general condition of probation that the defendant not violate any state or federal criminal law. An attorney was appointed to represent the defendant. On December 2, 2015, six days before the date of the violation of probation hearing, the state filed a long form information substituting the May 5, 2015 arrest, rather than the July 29, 2015 arrest cited in the original warrant, as the underlying basis for the violation of his probation. The defendant and his attorney were informed of this change on December 2, 2015. The defendant's attorney did not object to the change or seek a continuance of the hearing. Following the violation of probation hearing on December 8, 2015, the court found by a preponderance of the evidence that the defendant, by assaulting the victim, violated a criminal law, thereby violating a general condition of his probation. As a result of this violation, the court revoked the defendant's probation and sentenced him to thirty months of incarceration. This appeal followed. Additional facts will be set forth as necessary.

         The defendant's sole claim on appeal is that he was deprived of his due process right to fair notice of the charges against him when the state filed a substitute information six days prior to his probation revocation hearing. The defendant argues that the late notice caused him unfair surprise and prejudice in preparing his defense.[3] The defendant concedes that his due process claim is unpreserved and seeks review pursuant to State v. Golding, 213 Conn. 233, 239-40, 567 A.2d 823 (1989), as modified by In re Yasiel R., 317 Conn. 773, 781, 120 A.3d 1188 (2015).

         Pursuant to Golding, ‘‘a defendant can prevail on a claim of constitutional error not preserved at trial only if all of the following conditions are met: (1) the record is adequate to review the alleged claim of error; (2) the claim is of constitutional magnitude alleging the violation of a fundamental right; (3) the alleged constitutional violation . . . exists and . . . deprived the defendant of a fair trial; and (4) if subject to harmless error analysis, the state has failed to demonstrate harm-lessness of the alleged constitutional violation beyond a reasonable doubt.'' (Emphasis in original; internal quotation marks omitted.) State v. Tucker, 179 Conn.App. 270, 279, A.3d (2018). ‘‘In the absence of any one of these conditions, the defendant's claim will fail. The appellate tribunal is free, therefore, to respond to the defendant's claim by focusing on whichever condition is most relevant in the particular circumstances.'' (Internal quotation marks omitted.) State v. Santana, 313 Conn. 461, 469-70, 97 A.3d 963 (2014). Upon review of the record, we conclude that the defendant has failed to satisfy the third prong of Golding.

         We begin by setting forth the relevant legal principles. It is well established that the defendant is entitled to due process rights in a probation violation proceeding. ‘‘Probation revocation proceedings fall within the protections guaranteed by the due process clause of the fourteenth amendment to the federal constitution. . . . Probation itself is a conditional liberty and a privilege that, once granted, is a constitutionally protected interest. . . . The revocation proceeding must comport with the basic requirements of due process because termination of that privilege results in a loss of liberty.'' (Citation omitted; internal quotation marks omitted.) State v. Barnes, 116 Conn.App. 76, 79, 974 A.2d 815, cert. denied, 293 Conn. 925, 980 A.2d 913 (2009). ‘‘Although the due process requirements in a probation revocation hearing are less demanding than those in a full criminal proceeding, [4] they include the provision of written notice of the claimed violations to the defendant.'' (Footnotes added and omitted.) State v. Repetti, 60 Conn.App. 614, 617, 760 A.2d 964, cert. denied, 255 Conn. 923, 763 A.2d 1043 (2000).

         The defendant argues that the state did not provide him with adequate notice of the basis of his violation of probation when it filed a substitute information six days prior to the violation of probation hearing. This court has held, however, that ‘‘[i]t is beyond question that in a criminal proceeding, the state may change the factual basis supporting a criminal count prior to trial. See Practice Book § 36-17.[5] If substantive amendments are permissible prior to trial in a criminal proceeding, then surely our legislature did not intend to prohibit them prior to a hearing in a probation revocation proceeding.'' (Footnote in original.) State v.Outlaw, 60 Conn.App. 515, 526, 760 A.2d 140 (2000), aff'd, 256 Conn. 408, 772 A.2d 1122 (2001). The language of Practice Book § 36-17 requires only that the substitute information be filed before the trial or hearing commences, which this court interprets broadly. See State v.Iovanna, 80 Conn.App. 220, 223, 834 A.2d 742 (2003) (defendant received adequate notice of grounds on which he was found to have violated probation where state filed substitute information with additional charge at beginning of probation hearing); State v.Repetti, supra, 60 Conn.App. 617 (no due process violation in probation hearing where state filed ...


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