Dead GPS Monitor Battery Results in Parole Violation

By Nancy Martinez

WOODLAND – On February 28 in Department 7 the defense furthered their argument on the GPS monitor violation by Michael Villescaz. The defense argued that under Penal Code section 3010.10, the language set forth does not indicate that a GPS monitor is mandated, rather the extent of the condition is determined by individual county departments, and therefore the constitutionality of the condition becomes questionable.

The deputy district attorney cited past court rulings that did not identify the penal code to be unconstitutional, and argued that not charging the monitor was a willful violation of the parole conditions. Mr. Villescaz had three days to charge his device but neglected to do so, fully knowing that it could result in a parole violation.

The court found Mr. Villescaz to have violated his parole by not charging the device and declined to be the first court to find the condition unconstitutional. The court sentenced Mr. Villescaz to 180 days in county jail.

Previous Hearing

A violation of parole hearing was presided over by Judge David W. Reed for Michael Villescaz on Feb. 14, 2020, in Department 7.

Mr. Villescaz is being charged for violating his parole on the morning of Jan. 11, 2020, three days after being released from the county jail. A parole agent testified at the hearing regarding his experience supervising Mr. Villescaz since 2018. The deputy public defender began his argument that the condition to wear a GPS monitor is not reasonable and plans to further this argument.

Mr. Villescaz’s assigned parole agent, Troy Libonati, testified in court that Villescaz has been one of his assigned parolees since Sept. 2018. Agent Libonati has since supervised the GPS monitor that Mr. Villescaz has been required to wear. On multiple occasions since 2018, Mr. Villescaz has violated the GPS monitor terms and Agent Libonati has repeated instructions on how to use and charge the monitor.

Agent Libonati testified that on Jan. 8, 2020, when Mr. Villescaz was released from the county jail, he provided Mr. Villescaz with a new monitor and charging system and he instructed him on how to charge the device. The recommended charging maintenance that Agent Libonati has advised Mr. Villescaz is that he should charge the device every day for two hours to ensure the battery does not die.

Three days later on January 11 around 2 am, Agent Libonati received a phone call from the agency that records the GPS monitor information, informing him that the monitor had turned off due to a dead battery. Agent Libonati informed officers of Mr. Villescaz’s last known location and officers were able to locate him and pick him up.

Agent Libonati informed the court that, from Mr. Villescaz’s GPS monitor records, there was no attempted charging activity between the time when Mr. Villescaz was given the new monitor on January 8 and when the monitor turned off on January 11.

The agent continued to testify that the monitor will vibrate and inform the person wearing it that the battery is low and must be charged. The notice of low battery occurred on January 10 at 4:43 pm. Agent Libonati indicated that parolees can charge their device at his office every business day from 8 am to 5 pm.

The deputy district attorney argued that the parole agent has taught Mr. Villescaz how to charge his monitor on multiple times and has informed him on locations where he can charge the device when Mr. Villescaz has no registered residence. The DA argued that there is no excuse for allowing the monitor to die, which resulted in a parole violation.

The defense rebutted by arguing that the notice of low battery occurred 15 minutes before the agent’s office closed and that it would have been impossible for Mr. Villescaz to arrive at the office in time to charge the device.

The deputy public defender continued to argue that wearing a GPS monitor is not a reasonable condition in Mr. Villescaz’s case, and will further deliver his arguments on Feb. 28, 2020.

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About The Author

The Vanguard Court Watch operates in Yolo, Sacramento and Sacramento Counties with a mission to monitor and report on court cases. Anyone interested in interning at the Courthouse or volunteering to monitor cases should contact the Vanguard at info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org - please email info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org if you find inaccuracies in this report.

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