Man Prosecuted for Being Homeless Sees Case Dismissed

Jedidiah York-Carr had his case dismissed after the defense filed an 8th Amendment motion to dismiss the charges.  Mr. York-Carr was arrested on July 11, 2017, as officers were conducting a foot patrol south of County Road 29.

Deputy Andrew Livermore contacted Mr. York-Carr who was sleeping in his sleeping bag on the ground.  He was cited for illegal camping, a violation of Yolo County Code 6-13.03, a misdemeanor.

This was, according to his attorney, Deputy Public Defender Peter Borruso, simply a case of being prosecuted for being homeless.  He had no drugs or stolen property on him.

Mr. York-Carr told the Vanguard in an email, “Initially, I was told by the prosecutor to plead guilty and I would be run through some diversion program. I was never offered housing or help of any kind to get off the streets.”

In their motion, written by intern and law student Kim Angulo, the defense argued that the county code, as applied in Mr. York-Carr’s case, “criminalizes him for the involuntary act of sleeping and the status of homelessness” and is therefore “unconstitutional under the Eighth Amendment prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment, the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and the void for vagueness doctrine under the Fourteenth Amendment.”

The Yolo County Code defines camping as: “[R]esiding in or using any public or private property for one or more nights for living accommodation purposes, such as sleeping activities or making preparations to sleep (including the laying down of bedding for the purpose of sleeping), or storing personal belongings (including, but not limited to clothing, sleeping bags, bed rolls, blankets, sheets, luggage, backpacks, kitchen utensils, cookware, and similar material), or making any fire or using any tents, regularly cooking meals, or living in a parked vehicle.”

In the case of Mr. York-Carr, he was sleeping in a sleeping bag.  “Mr. York-Carr did not choose to be homeless and is being criminalized for being without a home and needing to sleep outdoors,” the defense argued.

They pointed out there are 114,000 homeless people in California, the majority are “unsheltered” or “living on the streets.”  The defense continued: “Not only does California as a whole have high homelessness rates, Yolo County in particular has a significant number of homeless people and an inadequate amount of homeless shelter beds to prevent people experiencing homelessness from performing essential life activities outside.”

The Yolo County homeless count in 2017 had the number of people experiencing homelessness as 459, a snapshot of homelessness with the actual number being much higher.  The defense pointed out, “Of the 459 homeless people surveyed, 54 percent were sheltered in an emergency shelter or transitional housing. The other 46 percent were unsheltered and living outside or in a car.”

According to the Yolo County Homeless Services Inventory, “there are two emergency shelters and two transitional housing facilities for individuals who are homeless in Yolo County.”

The defense, citing more sources, continued: “There are not enough beds at homeless shelters in Yolo County to house every person experiencing homelessness, forcing them to perform ~essential life activities outdoors.

“The application of Yolo County Code 16-13.03 criminalizing Mr. York-Carr’s alleged act of sleeping, a necessary life activity, when he was involuntarily homeless in a county that does not have sufficient beds for the number of homeless people in the county constitutes cruel and unusual punishment.”

The defense filed this motion to dismiss on April 13, 2018.  The DA’s office was required to file a response if they wished to contest the motion.  However, they decided at the last minute to dismiss “due to insufficient evidence.”

On May 25, a minute order noted that the motion to dismiss under the 8th Amendment was granted.

A key question was why this wasn’t handled under the Homeless Neighborhood Court, which the DA’s office claims helps divert criminal charges for individuals identified as transient.

The program notes, “Homelessness is a serious issue that needs to be addressed in a constructive fashion, and we are committed to being part of the solution. The endless cycle of arrests and jail sentences has clearly failed. It is time for a new approach that focuses on the causes of homelessness and promotes self-sufficiency.”

The literature notes: “The case plan addresses four dimensions: housing, self-sufficiency, behavioral health, and physical health. Oftentimes program clients include individuals afflicted with co-occurring mental health and substance abuse disorders, which require a high level of attention and assistance to successfully reintegrate into society.”

However, in Mr. York-Carr’s case, he never received any of this – instead he faced criminal charges simply for sleeping outside.  Those charges have now been dismissed, but Mr. York-Carr remains homeless.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

Enter the maximum amount you want to pay each month
Sign up for

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

Related posts


  1. Ken A

    He was not being prosecuted for “being homeless” he was being prosecuted for “illegal camping” just like a guy prosecuted for “stealing cheese” is not being prosecuted for “being hungry” or a guy prosecuted for “public defecation” is not being prosecuted for “not having a bathroom” and the homeless that steal so many bikes (and trailers) in town are not being prosecuted for “being bikeless” (ot trailerless)…

    1. David Greenwald

      Yes, he was prosecuted for being homeless. Sleeping outside is a byproduct of being homeless and unsheltered. That motion nails it perfectly.

      1. Ken A

        I’m not sure if Highbeam has read this (and the “4 is supposed to be there).  If you agree that the county “criminalizes 4 him for the involuntary act of sleeping and the status of homelessness” do you also agree that it is legal for the “bathroomless” to use your front yard as a toilet since urinating and defecating are also “involuntary acts” ?

        1. David Greenwald

          I pulled language from the motion and sometimes it grabs from the line number on the left and I don’t see it.

          My view of that is that if you do not have public bathrooms and prosecute someone for public urination or defecation, you run into the same problem. It’s not an involuntary act, but it is a natural and probable consequence of failing to provide facilities for people homeless.

    2. Tia Will


      Your post is not quite accurate. Sleep has a distinguishing characteristic that separates it from all the other activities you mentioned. Hunger, urination, defecation, and bicycle theft have a component of choice. Each can be put off for prolonged periods of time, the latter indefinitely. Sleep however, is completely involuntary as witnessed by the number of crashes caused by someone falling asleep behind the wheel. However, there is a component of differential treatment involved.

      When in school, I frequently studied through the night and then, after a final, fell asleep where ever I happened to be. On the quad, on a park bench, on the lawn in the College Park circle, in my car, standing in line at the bank. I never once was arrested. At most I was gently admonished that I was not safe and should go home. The only difference that I can see is that fortunately for me, I had a home to go to. So yes, I believe he was being charged, not just for sleeping, but for sleeping while homeless.

      1. Ken A

        I’m wondering if Tia sees the difference between “falling asleep in a parked car” and “setting up camp before falling asleep”?  To test this she should get a sleeping bag and set up camp on College Park Circle and she will soon meet the police.

  2. Tia Will


    I think the point here is that the DA/county had alternatives that should have , according to their own stated principles, addressed this “in a constructive manner”. A constructive manner to me would have meant referral to a program devised to house and reintegrate into society, not to penalize and put back on the street.

    Instead, the DA/county, chose the penalize and put back on street mode. I am wondering how this approach is cost effective? How does it make us any safer? How does it help our community in any way?

    Your thoughts?

  3. Ken A

    Few “homeless” have any interest in shelters or programs “devised to house and reintegrate into society” so there has to be some penalty for breaking the law or more will come here and illegally set up camp.

    It is interesting that few of wealthy on College Park Circle (and even the less wealthy in Old East Davis) that are often upset about how the homeless are treated have never had to take trucks full of trash from homeless camps to the dump like my friends that live on bigger lots just outside town.


  4. Tia Will

    Excuse me. I live 1/2 block from the tracks on J street,a favored spot at times for a homeless encampment. I myself have called the police on several occasions when fires have been started or when it appeared that something dangerous may have been going on. So let’s please leave alone the speculation about who is more affected than whom.

    I was limiting my comment to differential treatment of those sleeping in public. Having been on both sides of this, sleeping right out in the open, including on the grass of College Park circle, I was never bothered. Please do not tell me being homeless in and of itself does not play a role.

Leave a Reply

X Close

Newsletter Sign-Up

X Close

Monthly Subscriber Sign-Up

Enter the maximum amount you want to pay each month
Sign up for