By Danae Snell
SACRAMENTO – It’s not that common that judges take into consideration a defendant’s ability to pay when setting bail—bail is set for a crime, and those with the wherewithal can bail out and go home, while others without that status sit in jail, even though both may be guilty.
But Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Scott Tedmon made an exception here Thursday, and considered youthfulness and financial status, and allowed the zero bail release of 18-year-old Daniel Castro despite allegations he choked and punched his girlfriend in front of their two-year-old child.
Defendant Castro is currently being charged with PC section 273.5(a) “Any person who willfully inflicts upon a person who is his or her spouse, former spouse, cohabitant, former cohabitant, or the mother or father of his or her child, corporal injury resulting in a traumatic condition.”
Assistant Public Defender Samantha Ting argued “Mr. Castro is 18 years old; he is barely an adult and is coming up on his 19th birthday. Mr. Castro is an inmate worker working in custody, working at such a young age shows a level of responsibility and reflects evidence that he would show up to court.”
Ting based her argument, she said, on the Court of Appeal, First District, Division 2 “Humphrey” decision that noted, “Thousands and thousands of people languish in the jails of this state even though they have been convicted of no crime. Their only crime is they cannot make the bail that our present law requires.”
“Reinstating the principles of Humphrey that Mr. Castro is not able to post bail at the scheduled amount and that is because he is at limited means of working in a restaurant. He comes from a family of limited means. He has one parent on disability,” stated Ting.
“I would ask the court to consider the fact that Mr. Castro is not able to post bail at the scheduled amount (but) someone similarly situated but has the financial means would be able to easily post bail and address this matter out of custody. Consider releasing him if not on pretrial services then at least to an amount that he can afford,” Ting concluded.
Although Ting established her client’s financial issues, Deputy District Attorney Renishta Lal requested for the bail to remain set at $50,000, arguing, “We understand that the court has to consider the defendant’s ability to pay; however, what outweighs that factor in this case is our concern for the victim’s safety given the conduct in this case and how it happened in front of their child.”
The DDA justified her argument by presenting the court the facts of what allegedly occurred according to the victim.
“The victim confronted the defendant about how he had a Tinder account, which is a dating app. He got angry with her for looking through his phone, he began choking her with both his hands. She had trouble breathing and heard a loud ringing noise until he let go. Her voice was cracked while talking. She managed to kick him off and he had choked her so hard that she had then vomited on the ground,” said the DDA.
DDA Lal, added, “His sister intervened and yelled at him to stop, but he said that he did not care and told her to take their child to her room. He broke the victim’s glasses then pulled her hair, dragging her off the bed onto the ground.
“He punched her on the side of her head about five times and the right side of her head was swollen from that. He then took the victim’s phone and wallet from her purse and threatened that if she called the police she would see what would happen.”
At this point, Lal continued, saying that “the defendant’s sister came out to confront him and the defendant yelled at his sister so she went back to her room. And then he started to choke the victim again a second time. The victim had redness on the front and back of her neck, her eyes were bloodshot from the strangulation, and she suffered from scratches to her wrist. The son witnessed half of this incident.”
The DDA concluded, “The people are very concerned for her safety so we are asking that the bail remain at set at this point.”
Before both attorneys agreed to submit on the argument, the defense stated, “I would like to point out first some factual clarifications. All of the facts that the DA has cited came from the victim herself…there were no witness statements. The sister or whoever else was present never gave a statement, this is all coming from the victim who, by the way, I don’t believe the DA’s office has had contact with.”
Ting further noted, “I would also point out that the observable injuries were redness to the neck and a couple of scratches on the wrist, there was no swelling observed. There was no vomit observed. I would just ask that the court consider the fact that Mr. Castro is so young, he is by far my youngest client and has no prior record.”
Judge Tedmon stated, “These are two very young people with a two-year-old son. In this particular case I think there are conditions or combinations that would ensure that Mr. Castro will appear in court and protect the victim and the community. I am willing to release Mr. Castro on a level IV release condition.”
The defendant cannot have any contact with the victim, and must obey all laws.
“This is a close call, Mr. Castro. I want you to know that, but you are 18 years old and you have your whole life in front of you” the judge noted.
Defendant Castro answered, “I know.”
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