The defendant assigns as error the admission into evidence of several portions of the testimony of his probation officers. He contends in this regard that the trial court committed reversible error by admitting testimony of the probation officers relating to his ability to work during the period of his probation and the availability of work in the area during that period. He also contends that the trial court committed reversible error by admitting the conclusory testimony of one officer with regard to the wilfulness of his failure to abide by the terms of his probation. We do not agree.
The trial court was not bound by strict rules of evidence during the probation revocation hearing. State v. Pratt, 21 N.C. App. 538, 204 S.E.2d 906 (1974). Assuming arguendo that the trial court erred in admitting the testimony which gave rise to these contentions by the defendant, however, no reversible error was committed. When the trial court hears a matter without a jury and allows both competent and incompetent evidence to be admitted, it is presumed that the trial court ignores the incompetent evidence and considers only that which is competent and that the findings of fact of the court are in no way influenced by hearing the incompetent evidence. Bizzell v. Bizzell, 247 N.C. 590, 101 S.E.2d 668, cert. denied, 358 U.S. 888, 79 S.Ct. 129, 3 L.Ed.2d 115 (1958); Bailey v. Matthews, 36 N.C. App. 316, 244 S.E.2d 191 (1978). Therefore, the order and judgment of the trial court must be affirmed if competent evidence was before the trial court which was reasonably sufficient to satisfy it in the exercise of sound judicial discretion that the defendant had, without lawful excuse, wilfully violated one of the valid conditions of his probation. State v. Hewett, 270 N.C. 348, 154 S.E.2d 476 (1967); State v. Morton, 252 N.C. 482, 114 S.E.2d 115 (1960); State v. Pratt, 21 N.C. App. 538, 204 S.E.2d 906 (1974).
We find that the competent direct evidence introduced by the State through the testimony of the probation officers in the present case indicated, when taken in the light most favorable to the State, that the defendant absented himself from the State without permission or authority in violation of the terms and conditions of his probation and never attempted to contact his probation officers after his return to North Carolina. The competent direct evidence introduced by the State also indicated that the defendant did not visit or remain in contact with his probation officers before leaving the State or after his return, even
Additionally, the defendant's testimony was sufficient to support all of the findings and conclusions of the trial court. The defendant took the stand and admitted that he was able to work and in fact did work during the period of his probation but had not paid the amounts still owed as a condition of that probation. He further admitted that he did not go to his probation officer's office when specifically requested to go there by the officer. His excuse for this was that it had slipped his mind. He also admitted that he left the State during his probationary period without notifying his probation officer. His excuse for this was that he had received threats against his life. He admitted, however, that he had never informed his probation officer about these threats or attempted to contact his probation officer even after returning to North Carolina. The testimony by the defendant was more than adequate to support the findings and conclusions of the trial court to the effect that the defendant wilfully and without lawful excuse failed to pay court costs and other amounts owed as required by the probation judgment, that he wilfully and without lawful excuse failed to meet with his probation officer and that he wilfully and without lawful excuse departed the State without notifying his probation officer.
The defendant additionally contends that the order for arrest served upon him in connection with the violation of his probation was not sufficient in that it did not set forth all of the essential elements which the State was required to prove in order to justify revocation of his probation. The arrest order in question instead contained the conclusory direction to law enforcement officers that: "The defendant named above having failed to comply with the terms and conditions of the probation judgment in an actions (sic) charging breaking and entering and larceny YOU ARE DIRECTED TO ARREST THE DEFENDANT. . . . " The defendant contends that this order for his arrest for violation of his probation was insufficient to inform him with particularity of the accusations against him so as to enable him to prepare his defense, inadequate to protect him from subsequent prosecution for the same offenses, and inadequate to enable the trial court to proceed to judgment in the event of his conviction. We find the defendant's contentions without merit.
As probation or suspension of sentence is an act of grace extended to one already convicted of a crime in a trial providing the full protection of due process of law, the rights of an offender in a probation revocation hearing are not those extended by the Constitution of the United States to one on trial in a criminal prosecution. State v. Hewett, 270 N.C. 348, 154 S.E.2d 476 (1967). The charge involved in all such
The order and judgment of the trial court are
ROBERT M. MARTIN and WEBB, JJ., concur.