Tenth Judicial District Circuit Judge Sam Pope correctly decided that the failure to pay the fines, penalties and costs assessed justified the revocation of a suspended sentence given to a drug violator, the Arkansas Court of Appeals decided in an opinion issued on Wednesday, May 19.
Robert Scott Wilcox pleaded guilty in 2016 to a Class D felony for possession of drug paraphernalia, and he was sentenced to three years in prison with an additional three years of suspended imposition of sentence. In 2019, the state petitioned the circuit court to revoke the suspended sentence because of allegations Wilcox failed to appear on drug charges in Drew County, charges never formally filed, and for Wilcox’s failure to pay the fines, costs and fees in Ashley County.
In October, 2019, an employee of the Ashley County Sheriff’s Department testified that Wilcox had not made any payments on the $660 he owed.
Wilcox said that he was in jail for about seven months before additional charges were dismissed. He said, “I was never aware of these fines. I’ve never been told. I’ve been incarcerated. I mean, Eric Thomas used to be my parole officer. I’ve never--He’s never told me nothing about these fines. I’ve never seen them. I’ve been incarcerated in Ashley County Jail several times and they’ve never said nothing to me about these fines, never.”
The circuit court rejected the idea that Wilcox was unaware of his obligation to pay as “just false” and “almost perjury.” The appeals court agreed: “The court minced no words. Having reviewed the record, we agree with the State that the circuit court’s rejection of Wilcox’s excuse that he was unaware that he had any fines or costs to pay was not clearly against the preponderance of the evidence given the lack of credibility and weight that the circuit court gave to Wilcox’s testimony. Moreover, the record contains a written statement of
Wilcox’s SIS conditions. . . . Condition number nine states that Wilcox had an obligation to pay “$165.00 Court Costs, $250 DNA Fee, $125.00 Drug Fee, and $20.00 Booking Fee to the Sheriff’s Office,” the appeals court opinion noted.
In affirming Judge Pope’s decision, the appeals court’s ruling noted that Wilcox “did not sufficiently explain his incarceration excuse’ to the circuit court” and did not state exactly when he was in jail during his suspended sentence.
The court ruled that only one factor was needed to justify the revocation.
Chief Judge Brandon J. Harrison wrote the majority opinion. Judges Ray Abramson and Rita Gruber agreed with the opinion. The Arkansas Department of Corrections’ web site does not indicate if Wilcox is in custody.