This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1998).






State of Minnesota,


John Patrick Murphy,


Filed March 14, 2000


Davies, Judge


Ramsey County District Court

File No. K2931209



Mike Hatch, Attorney General, 525 Park St., Suite 500, St. Paul, MN 55103-2106; and


Amy Klobuchar, Hennepin County Attorney, Michael Richardson, Assistant County Attorney, C-2000 Government Center, Minneapolis, MN 55487 (for respondent)


Bradford W. Colbert, Melissa Sheridan, Assistant State Public Defenders, 875 Summit Ave., Room 254, St. Paul, MN 55105 (for appellant)


Considered and decided by Randall, Presiding Judge, Davies, Judge, and Halbrooks, Judge.

U N P U B L I S H E D   O P I N I O N


            Appellant John Patrick Murphy argues that alleged violations of probation did not warrant revocation.  He claims the violations were minor and not supported by clear and convincing evidence.  We affirm.


In 1994, Murphy pleaded guilty to 22 counts of terroristic threats and one count of conspiracy to commit terroristic acts.  In total, the district court sentenced him to 96 months in prison followed by stayed sentences totaling 450 months.  After Murphy served time in prison, probation commenced in September 1998.  As a condition of that probation, Murphy was restricted to an “inclusion zone,” the area approximately 1,000 feet around his placement, and was to be constantly monitored by a Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) system.  Murphy was required to wear a bracelet transmitter and carry GPS equipment that transmitted his location to satellites that relayed the information to the GPS system manager.  If Murphy violated any GPS rules, or if there was a problem with the GPS system, the equipment alerted the GPS system manager, who notified the police and Murphy’s probation officer.

On March 2, 1999, Murphy’s GPS equipment signaled the second “bracelet strap” violation in a month.  When the bracelet first broke, police officers simply replaced it with a new one, but when the strap broke a second time, it was sent to the GPS company for analysis.  According to the company, the second break resulted from “repeated bending and flexing of the strap” in a single area, and “would not occur under intended use.”

            On March 8, Murphy’s probation officer prepared a probation violation report listing two probation violations:  the March bracelet break, and a February 24 incident when the GPS system alerted police that Murphy was outside his inclusion zone.

Following a hearing, the district court found Murphy had violated the conditions of his probation by tampering with his GPS equipment and by leaving his inclusion zone.  The district court revoked probation and committed him to the Commissioner of Corrections for 24 months.  This appeal follows.


The district court has broad discretion in determining if there is sufficient evidence to revoke probation and will not be reversed absent a clear abuse of discretion.  State v. Austin, 295 N.W.2d 246, 249-50 (Minn. 1980).

The district court must determine whether clear and convincing evidence shows that the defendant violated the conditions of probation and whether this violation requires probation revocation.  Minn. R. Crim. P. 27.04, subd. 3(3); State v. Moot, 398 N.W.2d 21, 23 (Minn. App. 1986), review denied (Minn. Feb. 13, 1987).  Before probation can be revoked, a district court must:

1) designate the specific condition or conditions that were violated;

2) find that the violation was intentional or inexcusable; and

3) find that need for confinement outweighs the policies favoring probation.


Austin, 295 N.W.2d at 250.

The district court in this case designated two conditions of probation that Murphy violated:  tampering with his GPS system bracelet and leaving his inclusion zone.  A review of the record shows the district court’s finding that Murphy tampered with his GPS equipment is supported by the evidence.  We find no abuse of discretion in the district court’s determination that Murphy intentionally and inexcusably violated his probation by breaking the strap.

Murphy’s probation conditions[1] limited his movements to within 1,000 feet of his placement.  The district court found Murphy intentionally and inexcusably ventured approximately one-half mile outside his inclusion zone for at least 41 minutes.  Because the record supports this finding, the district court did not abuse its discretion in deciding Murphy intentionally and inexcusably violated this condition of probation.  Moot, 398 N.W.2d at 23 (in revocation hearing, trial court acts as fact-finder in weighing witness credibility).

The district court also ruled that the two probation violations justified revocation and that the need for sanctions outweighed the policies favoring probation.  The district court indicated that it understood its duty to balance the need for confinement with the policies favoring probation.  The court found that Murphy’s tampering with his GPS equipment and leaving his inclusion zone demonstrated an unwillingness to participate conscientiously in his probation.  See State v. Theel, 532 N.W.2d 265, 267 (Minn. App. 1995), review denied (Minn. July 20, 1995) (failure to follow probation order indicates unsuccessful probation); Moot, 398 N.W.2d at 24 (failure to successfully complete treatment despite repeated warnings supported revocation decision).  The record supports the district court’s conclusion that the need for confinement outweighs Murphy’s claim for continued probation.

The district court acted within its discretion in revoking Murphy’s probation.



[1] Murphy claims he signed the probation agreement “under duress,” but the court found no evidence that he was coerced into signing.  Evidence suggests that Murphy added the phrase “under duress” to his signature on all documents presented to him by the state.