STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA
v. Pitt County
No. 05 CRS 58540
KEYONTA LAQUAY TAFT
Attorney General Roy Cooper, by Assistant Attorney General Ann
Stone, for the State.
Carol Ann Bauer, for defendant-appellant.
Keyonta Laquay Taft (defendant) appeals from a judgment
entered upon revocation of his probation. We affirm.
On 4 November 2005, defendant entered guilty pleas to two counts of obtaining property by false pretenses. As provided in his plea agreement, the trial court consolidated the offenses for judgment, suspended a prison sentence of 8 to 10 months, and placed defendant on supervised probation for 18 months. The court required defendant as a special condition of probation to obtain and maintain gainful employment. The court further ordered defendant to submit to six months of intensive supervision and perform 72 hours of community service during this period. Thejudgment provided, however, that [i]f defendant immediately obtains employment then community service is waived.
In a report filed 31 May 2006, defendant was charged with willfully violating the conditions of his probation as follows: (1) failing to perform any of his community service; (2) missing nine curfew checks between 10 February 2006 and 16 May 2006; (3) failing to pay any amount of his court supervision fees, resulting in a $220 arrearage; and (4) failing to maintain stable employment. At a hearing held 17 July 2006, defendant's probation officer confirmed defendant had performed none of his 72 hours of court- ordered community service. Defendant worked on and off for two weeks at a Hardee's restaurant before quitting in March of 2006, and worked for one hour through a temporary agency before walk[ing] off the job site. In addition to the nine curfew violations noted on the violation report, the officer averred that defendant had been absent on several other occasions when the officer personally checked on his whereabouts. When the probation officer asked defendant about the missed curfews, defendant gave vague answers[,] claiming he was in the shower or may have been at church. The officer stated that defendant had paid nothing toward his court fees or restitution and owed a balance of $920. Characterizing defendant's violations as blatant[,] he asked the court to revoke defendant's probation.
Defendant testified that he was released on probation on 15 January 2006, and believed his community service obligation was waived once he obtained employment at Hardee's in late February orearly March of 2006. He was fired from Hardee's after two weeks due to his criminal background, and thereafter had tried to work with a temporary service. Defendant claimed he was currently enrolled in a three-week job-training program which would provide him assistance in locating employment once he graduated. He used some money he earned for child support obligations. Defendant insisted he had obeyed his curfew but was sometimes asleep when the officer knocked at his door.
Based on the evidence adduced at the revocation hearing, the trial court revoked defendant's probation and activated his suspended sentence of 8 to 10 months. In its written judgment, the court found that defendant committed each of the four violations alleged in the report willfully and without valid excuse[.] Defendant filed timely notice appeal from the judgment.
In his lone assignment of error on appeal, defendant claims the trial court failed to make any findings of fact to support the decision to revoke his probation, as required by N.C. Gen. Stat. § 15A-1345(e). Specifically, he asserts that the court made no findings to reflect its consideration of his testimony in reaching its decision. Defendant further avers the court failed to make any conclusions about whether any violation was the result of willfulness and without lawful excuse.
The trial court's decision to revoke probation will not be reversed absent a 'manifest abuse of discretion.' State v. Tennant, 141 N.C. App. 524, 526, 540 S.E.2d 807, 808 (2000) (quoting State v. Guffey, 253 N.C. 43, 45, 116 S.E.2d 148, 150(1960)). To support revocation, [a]ll that is required is that the evidence be sufficient to reasonably satisfy the judge in the exercise of his sound discretion that the defendant has willfully violated a valid condition of probation. State v. White, 129 N.C. App. 52, 58, 496 S.E.2d 842, 846 (1998), aff'd in part and disc. review improvidently allowed in part, 350 N.C. 302, 512 S.E.2d 424 (1999). In exercising its discretion, however, the court must allow defendant an opportunity to present relevant information regarding the alleged violations and must make findings to support [its] decision[.] N.C. Gen. Stat. § 15A-1345(e) (2005). Where a defendant presents competent evidence of his inability to comply with the conditions of probation, we have further held that the court's findings must reflect its consideration thereof. State v. Hill, 132 N.C. App. 209, 213, 510 S.E.2d 413, 415 (1999). However, the court need not accept the defendant's evidence as true. State v. Young, 21 N.C. App. 316, 321, 204 S.E.2d 185, 188 (1974).
We find no abuse of discretion here. The judgment entered by the trial court includes findings that defendant violated the conditions of his probation as alleged in paragraphs one (1) through four (4) of the violation report, and that "the defendant violated each condition willfully and without valid excuse[.]" The judgment further states that the court considered the evidence and arguments of the parties. Though most of these findings are pre- printed on the judgment form, they are sufficient to comply with G.S. § 15A-1345(e). See State v. Belcher, 173 N.C. App. 620, 625, 619 S.E.2d 567, 570 (2005) ([A]lthough we encourage trial courtsto be 'explicit in [their] findings by stating that [they] ha[ve] considered and evaluated [the] defendant's evidence . . . and found it insufficient to justify breach of the probation condition, [a] failure to do so does not constitute an abuse of discretion.') (quoting State v. Williamson, 61 N.C. App. 531, 535, 301 S.E.2d 423, 426 (1983)). Moreover, in light of the State's evidence, the court acted well within its discretion in revoking defendant's probation.
Judges MCCULLOUGH and STEELMAN concur.
Report per Rule 30(e).
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