‘Outside the box’ sentence for probation violation

A complex, sometimes arcane, discussion between Circuit Court Judge Jeffrey W. Parker, Commonwealth’s Attorney Art Goff and attorney Frank Reynolds last Thursday (Jan. 21) ended with an innovative compromise sentence for Joseph Sanford Burns II. The 24-year-old Castleton resident was charged with violating his probation, part of the sentence imposed after being found guilty in December 2012 of felony possession of the schedule II drug oxycodone, eluding police and a misdemeanor charge of contempt of court.

Reynolds, representing Burns, told the court that his client has used drugs “probably his whole life” and has been in jail “on his birthday since he was 18.” He recommended that the court send Burns to the Boxwood Recovery Center in Culpeper for drug rehab.

Goff said he was shocked when he’d learned that Burns had not previously received any drug rehab treatment and said he was open to trying a different sentencing solution. Goff suggested a combination of the 28-day treatment at Boxwood, bracketed by periods of incarceration. He said he felt the return to jail after Boxwood would help reinforce Burns’s abstinence before being released. Goff also suggested extending Burns’s probation by 12 months after he is released from jail to ensure he continues to gets drug testing and monitoring.

The discussion then revolved around the practicality of the recommendation. Parker said he was “willing to think outside the box. Cases like this are revolving doors.” He asked if Burns would be on bond while at Boxwood and pointed out that Boxwood is not a secure facility.

Reynolds argued that “the onus would be on Mr. Burns. If he leaves, he’s punished.” However, said Parker, “Because Boxwood is not secure, if Mr. Burns leaves, he can’t be charged with escaping.”

Finally, Parker was ready to cut off discussion. “I will try to work with the general recommendation that has been made,” he said, “but its success will be up to Mr. Burns.”

Addressing Burns directly, Parker, said “This is your fourth [probation] violation. You’re running out of chances. The court is not a social services agency. If you continue to use illegal drugs you’ll spend all of your birthdays in jail.”

He then sentenced Burns to six months in jail and 18 months of supervised probation. As a condition of his sentence, Burns will be required to successfully complete treatment at Boxwood. There would be bed to bed transfers between Boxwood and RSW Regional Jail. While in Boxwood, Burns would be under a $5,000 secured bond, which would be revoked when he was returned to RSW for the remainder of his jail term.

Parker closed with, “Mr. Burns, this is your chance. I suggest you take advantage of it.”

One year or 12 months: not the same

Last May after pleading guilty to violating his probation, Jason K. Woyciechowski of Roanoke was sentenced to three years and three months in the penitentiary. At the time, Parker suspended all but one year.

On Jan. 21, Woyciechowski was back in court to ask Parker to amend his sentence from one year to 12 months. The change would make Woyciechowski eligible for work release. “Some people in jail are happy to sit around playing cards,” he said, “but I want to work.”

Goff had no objection, saying, “I think work release is good.” Parker granted the request to amend the sentence, but emphasized that he was not authorizing work release. “I’ll let the jail determine whether they want to give you work release,” he said, “but at least this change will change your eligibility.”

DWI and a no-show

On Jan. 7 in Circuit Court, Daniel Webster Ramey, 33, of Sperryville, was remanded into custody of the Rappahannock County Sheriff’s Office after being sentenced for a third-offense DWI charge (with a blood alcohol level above .20, a felony).

On May 31, RCSO Deputy W. Ubben stopped Ramey on Lee Highway near Ben Venue, arrested him, and charged him with a first offense of driving under the influence. In district court June 2, Ramey was sentenced for a second-offense DWI in March, getting 12 months in jail (with 11 months suspended) plus a three-year license suspension and a $500 fine.

Frank Reynolds, Ramey’s attorney, told Parker that Ramey knew “he made a serious mistake that he can’t take back. Mr. Ramey is well-employed and has been employed for a long time.”

In his own statement to the court, Ramey said, “I’m sorry for wasting everyone’s time.”

Parker said, “Maybe you’ve wasted your own time. You’ll have time to sit in jail and reflect on your actions.” He then sentenced Ramey to five years in the penitentiary, with all but 110 days suspended, and two years of supervised probation. He was ordered to complete the state’s alcohol safety program, VASAP, and his license was suspended indefinitely.

Seung Nam Baek, 55, of Annandale, charged with violating the terms of his probation, failed to appear in court and was declared a fugitive. In May 2015, Baek — speaking through an interpreter — was sentenced to three years in jail, with two years and 10 months suspended, one year of supervised probation and three years of unsupervised probation for forging public records after signing a false name to traffic-related summonses.  

 

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