Defendant Sentenced to 90 Days in Jail for Stealing Food – Defense Claims Felony Added to Force Plea Deal

By William McCurry

SACRAMENTO – In yet another case involving the theft of food—there have been a number of these cases recently—Sacramento Superior Court Department 10 Judge Ernest Sawtelle has sentenced defendant Mark Hansen to 90 days in county jail, which can be served through a sheriff project or home detention.

Hansen was sentenced for stealing from WinCo Foods. During his act of stealing on Jan. 13, 2020, Hansen had an altercation with one of the workers from the grocery store which added to his charges of robbery, grand theft, petty theft and battery.

Defense counsel charged that an additional charge, a felony, was added at the preliminary hearing only to pressure the defendant into taking a deal—the deputy district attorney denied it, but, in the end, the defendant did finally take a deal after the more serious felony was added.

Prior to the preliminary hearing, Deputy District Attorney Nick Karp added Count 1. Defense Attorney Michael Ross objected to the amended felony charge, based on that the charge constitutes prosecutorial intimidation of his client from not accepting the initial plea bargain.

Ross argued that he does not believe that any of the facts obtained from this case would fulfill the burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt to the robbery charge. Judge Sawtelle granted the motion to add this charge to defendant Hansen.

Ross then requested a hearing on Count 1 since he was just informed on this charge the morning of the scheduled preliminary hearing, insisting he needed more time to do more research. Judge Sawtelle responded that he already granted the amended charge and proceeded to arraign Hansen on his charges.

After Judge Sawtelle arraigned Hansen on the charges, Hansen entered not guilty pleas. DDA Karp was ready to move forward with the hearing but Ross, on the other hand, was not because he had been unable to obtain a witness for this case.

Ross wanted to bring an expert witness on this case that specialized in martial arts. He stated that this witness would testify as to who was the aggressor in the altercation in WinCo.

DDA Karp objected, and the judge sustained it.

The defense now attempts to propose an alternative motion to continue, and would like the preliminary hearing bifurcated, splitting the hearing into two separate hearings. This motion was also denied.

Hansen is concerned about the 10-year firearm ban that is mandatory under Count 4, if he is convicted. Since Hansen has concern about this ban, he wants to meet with Karp and Ross to potentially resolve this without being charged with Count 4.

Karp was willing to meet with both Ross and Hansen if there was potential to resolve this case. He said he had concerns about what this meeting would be about because he thought it could potentially be a tactic to delay the hearing.

Once Karp returned, he was able to speak to his supervisors and the Count 4 charge of Penal Code § 242 was changed to Penal Code § 415, disturbance of the peace. The latter section does not carry a firearm ban.

With a plea bargain that Hansen would agree to, both Counts 1 and 2 would be dropped.

Hansen plead guilty to Count 3 and Count 4. Judge Sawtelle now sentenced Hansen to 90 days in county jail, which can be served in either a sheriff project or a home detention. He has one year of informal probation—informal searchable probation, where he would not have a probation officer but his person, place, or vehicle can be searched with or without a warrant.

Hansen was also ordered to pay $150 in restitution fines, a $30 court facility fee, and a $40 court security fee.

He was ordered to stay away from WinCo Foods, where the altercation happened, during the time of his probation. Restitution to the victim will be determined at a later date, if any will be imposed.

William McCurry is a fourth year at Sacramento State, majoring in Criminal Justice. He is from Brentwood, California.

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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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