STATE v. MAURICE M., SC 18454

Judicial District of Tolland at G.A. 19

 

      Criminal; Probation Violation; Risk of Injury; Whether There was Sufficient Evidence that Defendant Violated his Probation by Committing Offense of Risk of Injury.  On November 26, 2006, the defendant was at his home, taking care of his two children, ages two and eight.  While he was in the living room watching television, the children were playing in another part of the house.  Upon being informed by the older child that the two year old was missing, the defendant searched for the child.  He found the child outside with several adults, including a police officer, who informed him that the child had been found in the street in front of his house.  After the defendant reported to the officer that the child apparently had exited the house from the back door, the officer observed that there were no child safety devices on the doorknobs on that door.  The defendant was arrested and charged with risk of injury to a child in violation of General Statutes § 53-32 (a) (1) and, on the basis of that arrest, was charged with violation of probation.  Following a hearing on the violation of probation, the defendant's probation was revoked.  On appeal to the Appellate Court (116 Conn. App. 1), the defendant claimed, among other things, that the trial court based its finding that he violated his probation on insufficient evidence to support the finding, by a preponderance of the evidence, that he committed the offense of risk of injury to a child, specifically, that his conduct amounted to a reckless disregard of the consequences.  The court concluded that the trial court's determination that the defendant violated his probation by permitting a situation that posed a risk of injury to a child was not clearly erroneous.  The court found that recklessness could be inferred from the defendant's conduct because he knew that his back door was not secured, yet he failed to attend to his  young child adequately despite the likelihood that the child could exit the home and injure himself.  The Supreme Court will now decide whether the Appellate Court properly held that there was sufficient evidence that the defendant violated his probation by committing the offense of risk of injury to a minor.