The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office filed a motion to modify the probation of singer Chris Brown, who pleaded guilty to assault in 2009 in a highly-publicized case. Under the terms of his probation, Brown was required to perform community service. The district attorney’s motion alleges that Brown either did not perform community service as he claimed in reports to the probation office, or that he did not adequately account for his time. The motion asks the court to find Brown in violation of his probation, but does not ask the court to revoke his probation. Revocation by the court could mean that Brown would have to serve a prison sentence.
Brown, a well-known R&B singer, pleaded guilty in June 2009 to the assault of his former girlfriend, the pop singer Rihanna. He had allegedly assaulted her on the night before the Grammy Awards after the two had an argument. The plea deal included a five-year term of probation, a one-year class on domestic violence prevention, and six months of a stricter form of community service known as “community labor.” This allowed Brown to avoid jail and public testimony regarding the alleged assault. The court agreed to allow Brown to perform the community service in Virginia, Brown’s home state and the location of a residence that he owns.
Probation, formally known as “community supervision” in Texas, is an alternative to incarceration available in most criminal cases. As part of a plea agreement, a judge may enter a conviction and impose a sentence of imprisonment, but suspend that sentence in favor of a plan of community supervision. A supervising officer monitors the defendant’s progress and reports to the court. If the defendant completes the conditions set by the court, which could include community service and education courses, the court can release the defendant from community supervision. If the supervising officer reports that the defendant has not met the requirements, such as by failing to perform ordered services or through alleged involvement in criminal activity, the prosecutor may move the court to revoke community supervision. The court must hold a hearing, and the defendant has the opportunity to contest the prosecutor’s allegations. Revocation by the court can result in imposition of the original sentence of incarceration.
The Los Angeles DA’s motion asks the court to revoke the provisions of Brown’s plea agreement allowing him to perform community labor in Virginia, but it does not ask the court to revoke his probation entirely. The DA’s office alleges that Brown’s reports to his probation officer regarding his hours of community labor are inconsistent and lack supporting documentation. It further claims that no official in Virginia ever officially took charge of Brown’s case. At specific times that Brown claims he was performing community labor, the DA’s office claims to have evidence that Brown was actually outside the state of Virginia. If the court grants the DA’s motion, Brown may have to redo the community labor hours in California.
Michael J. Brown, a board-certified criminal defense attorney, fights for the rights of Texas defendants, making certain that law enforcement and the courts abide by all the rules and procedures of the criminal justice system. To learn more about how we can assist you in your legal matter, contact us online or at (432) 687-5157.
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Photo credit: By Gemma Mary from Gympie, Australia (Chris Brown) [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons.