By Fabiha Zaman
The hearing for Joseph Allen’s probation violation was seen before Judge Richardson on Thursday afternoon.
The sole witness for this violation was Casey Aden, a Yolo County probation officer of twelve years. He told the court that Mr. Allen had failed to report to his probation officer on both May 8 and May 12 of this year.
Deputy Public Defender John Sage, representing Mr. Allen, told the court that the death of the defendant’s cousin prevented him for checking in for probation. Mr. Sage also presented to the court a document from Sacramento County that was issued before Mr. Allen’s case was transferred to Yolo County. The document waived a 52-week program for domestic violence which was included in the original felony charges from 2014.
Judge Richardson ultimately decided that there was a violation of probation and moved on to the sentencing portion of this event.
The first witness called was the defendant’s fiancée of seven years. She was also the victim in the domestic violence case. She and Mr. Allen had been homeless together for five years and they more recently found an apartment in February of this year. When asked if Mr. Allen had assaulted her since his conviction in 2014, she answered no.
During cross-examination from Deputy District Attorney Jay Linden, Mr. Allen’s fiancée revealed that if Mr. Allen were sentenced to serve more time in jail, they would lose their home since he was the sole provider and was able to pay the bills because of his Supplemental Security Income.
The judge then asked the defendant’s fiancée if she was aware that Mr. Allen failed to report to his meetings with the probation officer, to which she answered yes. However, she also added that Mr.
Allen attempted to contact his probation officer but was unable to get in contact with the officer, and left multiple voicemails.
The next witness called by the defense counsel was Mr. Allen’s mother. She stated that she was the one to personally contact the defendant on April 30, 2017, about his cousin’s death. She included that the defendant was extremely close to his cousin, even while growing up, and he was clearly grieving over the loss of his cousin during the funeral. The defendant’s mother also answered no when asked if she had observed any violence from Mr. Allen toward his fiancée after his conviction.
The next testimony was that of defendant Joseph Allen. As Mr. Sage was questioning him, he guaranteed that he had not assaulted his fiancée since his conviction and that if he were to go back to jail, they would lose their housing and his fiancée would be homeless once again. He also said that he was informed about the death of his cousin on the last day of April, which was why he did not surrender on May 4 since he was grieving and preoccupied with other obligations.
He assured the court that, if reinstated on probation, he would follow all the rules and regulations and he now understands the seriousness of missing probation meetings.
Mr. Linden pointed out during the cross-examination of the defendant that, prior to being transferred to Yolo County, the defendant had violated his probation four times. But Mr. Allen said this was only because he was homeless and lived out of his car for five years and consequently was unaware of what date and time it was. Thus, he was unable to report to his probation officer.
In defense counsel’s closing argument, Mr. Sage claimed that, although his client had violated his probation, Mr. Allen was able to provide a legitimate reason for doing so. If he had shown up to the probation meeting dates on May 8 and 12 he knew he would have been taken into custody and would have been unable to attend his cousin’s funeral on the 19th of that month.
Additionally, Mr. Allen showed promise as he was able to get an apartment and pay the bills with a stable income. Mr. Sage mentioned that even the victim, Mr. Allen’s fiancée, did not want to see Mr. Allen go to jail as she would lose her sole provider and become homeless again after already being homeless for so long.
Mr. Linden argued that the defendant was doing the same thing over and over again in violating his probation. He was making promises he was unable to keep and just setting his own agenda. The People believed that Mr. Allen had failed in every capacity, and this time should be no different.
Eventually, Judge Richardson delivered a verdict. He sympathized with and understood the defendant’s circumstance and thought the court’s appropriate response to his situation was to reinstate his probation and make any modifications necessary.
Mr. Allen will be released from custody within the next two business days and is ordered to contact his probation officer upon release.
Come see the Vanguard Event – “In Search of Gideon” – which highlights some of the key work performed by the Yolo County Public Defender’s Office…