6 Months in Jail Could Have Been Avoided with ‘Just One Hour of Community Service a Month’

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By Cailin Garcia

FRESNO – Fresno County Superior Court didn’t ask much—the equivalent of about one hour of community service a month—and Humberto Guzman would be a free man.

Instead, he’s going to jail for six months.

Assistant Public Defender Tonya Lopez requested another continuance on behalf of defendant Guzman after he failed to complete 20 hours of community service in the three years since signing a conditional plea agreement.

On October 6, 2017, Guzman pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor count of false impersonation, which violated CA Penal Code section 529.3. Guzman signed a conditional plea deal that required observation of all laws and the completion of 20 hours of community service at any non-profit organization.

Nearly three years after signing this agreement, on Friday, August 7, 2020, Guzman reappeared in court on the matter because he had failed to uphold the second term of the plea.

“He did inform me that he lost his vehicle. Then he was homeless for a good amount of time,” Lopez continued, explaining that Guzman’s homelessness prevented him from completing his community service.

“I do understand that this case is old, but I would request just one more continuance so he can finish these 20 hours of community service,” said Lopez.

The prosecution objected to granting another continuance to Guzman. Deputy District Attorney Carlie Bruce specifically noted that Guzman had already been granted an additional four months at his last court appearance, which took place more than a year ago in April of 2019.

“He has had ample time to complete the community service and we are requesting sentencing,” said Bruce.

After reviewing the terms of the plea agreement, Judge William Terrance agreed it was time for Guzman’s case to move to sentencing. Like Bruce, Judge Terrance emphasized that the defendant had been given more than enough time to complete his service hours. Had Guzman completed his hours earlier, the Judge estimated that the case could have been dismissed in early 2018.

“Mr. Guzman, this court has been very patient with you and allowed you almost three years to comply with the terms of your conditional settlement,” said Judge Terrance, “By my math, sir, if you had done just one hour of community service each month, this case would’ve been long gone and dismissed.”

The defendant Humberto Guzman was placed on three years of informal misdemeanor probation and is set to serve 180 days in the Fresno County Jail.

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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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