By Roxanna Jarvis and Aziza Nussipov
FRESNO – It’s a lesson defendant Chanhom Phetchumporn learned the hard way—no Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, go straight to jail.
Phetchumporn was remanded back into sheriff’s custody here in Fresno County Superior Court this week after repeated failures to attend AA meetings and the failure to comply with the SCRAMx program.
Phetchumporn, charged with driving under the influence of alcohol in two separate cases, was present in person for his pre-trial hearing because he violated his previous court order and went two weeks without attending AA meetings. He also failed to comply with the SCRAMx program by drinking alcohol while wearing the ankle monitor.
According to Deputy District Attorney Lauren Meegan, there were concerns about “public safety” in light of his “not being in compliance with the court orders.” Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) levels in each of his cases were 0.30 and 0.28, more than three times the legal limit of 0.08 percent.
Before the court began the hearing on the YouTube channel’s live stream, the parties and the judge, Samuel Dalesandro, discussed a medical condition Phetchumporn had, which could have made him “not feeling up to doing his AAs.”
Nonetheless, DDA Meegan believed the issue of public safety overrode being non-compliant due to the undisclosed medical issue. Meegan requested that Phetchumporn be remanded back into custody because of these concerns and violations.
Assistant Public Defender Sasha Serebryannik, in defense of Phetchumporn, pointed out that Phetchumporn “did have a substantial period of compliance with the requirement of five AA meetings a week, which requires near-daily meetings.”
Serebryannik added Phetchumporn also attends meetings with Westside Fellowship.
“The facilitator of those meetings…submitted a letter in December in support of Mr. Phetchumporn indicating that period of compliance as well as [his] attempts to maintain sobriety,” said Serebryannik, and “his remorse for his past conduct.
“I’m sure this court is aware that sobriety can be difficult for some people to achieve,” continued Serebryannik. “As to what [DDA Meegan communicated to the court about] the danger Mr. Phetchumporn presents to his community, [he] is no longer driving.”
Serebryannik ended his argument by insisting Phetchumporn has been compliant ever since his noncompliance with the SCRAM program and requested that the defendant remain out of custody between the current date and his next hearing in DUI court.
“It is my belief that he will not impose a danger to the community during the pendency between these hearings,” ended Serebryannik.
Judge Samuel Dalesandro stated he understood Phetchumporn was making an effort and that “[he] could make progress on this,” but added, “I have to balance not only your challenge in this case and the issues you’re going through but also the issue of safety of the public.”
Judge Dalesandro ruled that the defendant be remanded into custody, adding, “I can’t overlook your history as well as the represented allegations in this case regarding not only your multiple prior convictions, but also the very high BAC (blood alcohol content) involved in your offenses.”
Despite placing Phetchumporn back into sheriff’s custody, Judge Dalesandro told Phetchumporn he was very impressed with the letter by the facilitator at the fellowship he attended. “It was a strong letter in support. It tells me that you are making efforts [to be sober].”
The judge first set bail at $10,000 per case, but after a request from Serebryannik to lower the bail because it would be a substantial financial burden upon Phetchumporn, it was decreased to $5,000 per case, a total of $10,000.
“You have multiple DUI convictions and the Court imposed orders for you to be in compliance with the SCRAM monitor and [to] not consume alcohol. [I’m] not saying that wasn’t a struggle, but you violated that order,” said Judge Dalesandro to Phetchumporn.
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