Judge will rule on if Smith's alleged drinking violated probation

Judge will rule on if Smith's alleged drinking violated probation

URBANA – If Jamar Smith's probation is revoked, it doesn't mean he'll be going to jail.

Smith, a 21-year-old University of Illinois basketball player from Peoria, was due to appear in court Wednesday. He turned himself in Tuesday.

Smith pleaded guilty in May 2007 to aggravated driving under the influence of alcohol causing great bodily harm. He was sentenced to two weeks in jail and two years of probation.

On Tuesday, Champaign County State's Attorney Julia Rietz filed a petition to revoke that probation.

Revoking probation involves a hearing by a judge – not a jury – on allegations that the conditions of the probation were violated, Rietz said.

If the judge rules that those terms were violated, the person could be resentenced to probation or imprisonment. It depends on the seriousness of the original crime, the seriousness of the violation and the criminal history of the person involved, Rietz said.

Smith turned himself in to the Champaign County jail Tuesday afternoon on a warrant for his arrest, stemming from a petition to revoke his probation. Smith was released after posting bail on $25,000 bond.

Smith is accused in the petition of violating his probation by drinking alcohol on Friday, according to Rietz.

The prosecutor said one standard condition for probation is to refrain from abusing alcohol or using marijuana or controlled substances.

The person on probation may be required to submit to random testing of bodily fluids or breath tests to check for violations, she said.

Rietz said a hearing on a petition to revoke probation is based on a judge's ruling whether the allegations of violation more likely occurred than not, which is a lower burden of proof than "beyond a reasonable doubt" for criminal charges.

If the judge rules that the violation occurred, the person on probation can be resentenced, based on the sentencing range for the original crime. For example, the normal maximum penalty for a Class 4 felony would be 1 to 3 years in prison. For aggravated driving under the influence of alcohol causing serious bodily harm, the sentence could be 1 to 12 years.

A judge could also resentence a probation violator to another term of probation, possibly with additional conditions, or sentence the person to jail or prison.

Rietz said probation is a common sentence for a person who is a first offender who commits a less-serious crime.

Joe Gordon, director of court services in Champaign County, said there are 541 probation cases so far this year, compared with 434 last year at this time. Probation officers have an average case load of 135 probations, he said.

Gordon said probation normally carries 12 standard conditions, and any violations of those conditions are usually considered "technical" violations.

Examples include failure to report to a probation officer as ordered, failure to pay fines or fees or do public service, or the abuse of alcohol or of drugs.

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