Looting Charge in a Multiple-Charge Case Brings Bail to $10,000 from $0

By Manuel Espinoza

DAVIS – On April 22, 2020, an arraignment was held in Yolo County Superior Court in three cases, one involving a new complaint in the existing case and two pending violations of mandatory supervision.

Judge Dave Rosenberg began the first case by assigning Deputy Public Defender Richard Van Zandt to the defendant in the three cases, Jacob James.

The defense began by asking the deputy district attorney if they would use a natural or other type of disaster as a base for their looting charge, because it would affect their argument. The People responded by saying that they would base their theory off California Penal Code, undetermined at the moment.

The defense then urged the court to take judicial notice about the common definition of a natural disaster and argued that the coronavirus pandemic is not a natural or man-made disaster. They further argued that, regardless of what the police report stated, it remains that the pandemic is not a natural or man-made disaster. The defense claimed that this was important in order for the charges to become an ordinary vehicle theft or evading case and would set the bail amount at $0. The defense then argued that the People would try using the looting charge to evade the statewide bail schedule.

The People responded that this was inappropriate for a bail hearing and should be discussed in a preliminary hearing. They then stated that the court cannot and should not assume that the complaint filed is not true during an arraignment, and, based on this, asked the court to set the bail at $10,000.

The defense then responded by stating that the statewide bail schedule is mandatory and gives the court the power to set the bail at zero based on the charges presented. The judge then asked the defendant’s probation officer about the defendant’s record, to which they replied that the defendant was released on bail twice and has incurred during that period of time five new felony charges and two misdemeanor charges. The defense asked the court for the dates when the defendant was booked and released on $0 bail, for which the probation officer had to search.

While the probation officer continued to search for the dates, the judge added that the court retains the power to set the appropriate bail on a case-by-case basis. The defense quickly countered this by saying that the court must comply with the statewide bail schedule on the listed charges and recited that the mandate included language such as “must.”

The defense stated, “For $0 bail offenses, the court does not have discretion in accordance with the statewide bail schedule. It is mandatory. The state-wide schedule uses language like ‘must.’ There is no wiggle room. You must impose $0 bail. When the state first issued the order inviting courts to lower bail, it gave courts discretion. The reason that the state came out with a bail schedule is because lower courts were not doing that. So it made a mandatory schedule, so we ask the court just to follow the state-wide schedule.”

The People responded by stating that the defense presented wrong information based on the case. The People argued that the current pandemic actually is a natural or unnatural disaster, and that they disagreed about the definition. They then added that, based on the code, it doesn’t matter what the circumstances were for the declared state of emergency, it still classifies the charges as looting. They added that under the looting charges, the court still has discretion over the bail.

The defense stated that the reason for the clarification about the current pandemic as a man-made or natural disaster is because the charges will change according to the Penal Code.

They argued the importance of which theory would be used in the case—because the current pandemic is not a natural or man-made disaster, which would make looting charges illegitimate.

The judge then quickly turned back to the probation officer to check if they had returned with the information on the release dates. The probation officer responded by saying that, based on the case numbers, it does not appear yet on which dates the defendant had been released.

The judge asked if there were any further comments on the bail before he would make his decision. There were none.

The judge proceeded to set the defendant’s bail at $10,000 for the new case. He also added that in the two other cases he would set bail at $1 for each case.

The defense responded by saying that they are asking for the defendant to be released on his own recognizance. They added that the defendant has a place to stay and wants to get back to where he is required to be.

The defendant’s probation officer then responded by stating that the defendant is on two grants of mandatory supervision and stated that the court should have received notice of the violations. Based on this, they recommended that the defendant remain in custody due to the new felony charges while having previous grants.

The deputy district attorney then added that they believe the defendant should not be released. They cited the number of new felonies the defendant had and argued it was unsafe for him to be on release in this state of emergency.

The judges finalized the bail at $10,000 for the looting case, and $1 each for the mandatory supervision violation cases.

A preliminary hearing will be held May 22, 2020, before Judge David Reed at 9 am in Department 7.

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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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