By Ramneet Singh
SACRAMENTO, CA – Usually, even a plea agreement—when compared to a jury or bench trial—can still be a bit of a chore.
In Sacramento County Superior Court last Friday, Judge Raoul Thorbourne presided over such a plea agreement and sentencing of a defendant on a charge of gun possession by a prohibited individual—with the prison sentence bumped up to 32 months because of a previous strike.
Defense attorney Paul Irish described the agreed-upon negotiated resolution for his client, Nitesh Chand, who was physically present for the court proceedings.
Irish stated that “…Mr. Chand would be pleading no contest (to) count three…with the understanding that count two would be dismissed in the interest of justice in light of the plea.”
Irish noted Chand did not have to answer to count one during the preliminary hearing, and that an admission to a “…qualifying strike prior, that’s alleged. For a negotiated low term of 16 months…”
Irish referred to one of the conditions of “…whether Mr. Chand would stipulate asset forfeiture regarding a certain amount of money that was seized during the search of a residence.” Irish confirmed that this matter was settled and Deputy District Attorney Lauren Weiss affirmed this.
Judge Thorbourne confirmed that they would move immediately from the plea to sentencing, and asked Chand if he still needed to deliberate with Irish on anything. Chand replied “yes” and the two clarified matters away from their microphones.
Among other plea consequences, Judge Thorbourne described that, given the “felony conviction,” further felony charges could involve the use of the plea to increase his sentence.
After understanding his legal rights, Chand agreed to waive his rights in his acceptance of the aforementioned plea agreement. Chand pleaded no contest to the firearm charge and admitted to the prior robbery conviction.
Judge Thorbourne requested a factual basis at this point, and DDA Weiss established that on about May 5, 2020, the defendant “committed a felony violation…the defendant did have possession of a 40 caliber handgun and the defendant was barred from having a handgun due to his July 25, 2013 conviction for robbery.”
Weiss continued, “In this case, officers observed the defendant make multiple hand to hand transactions indicating drug sales.” Officers confronted the defendant and would find drugs in his vehicle. At his residence, officers found more drugs, various gun magazines, and the 40 caliber handgun.” Weiss finished by discussing the prior strike conviction and how this is reflected through the penal code.
Judge Thorbourne clarified to the defendant he was pleading no contest to the firearm charge. Irish affirmed that the plea related to that specific charge and that there was potential “dispute on some of the other facts.”
Following this clarification, Judge Thorbourne accepted the plea with the factual basis and determined that the defendant was guilty of Count 3. He also acknowledged the accuracy of the prior strike conviction.
In the sentencing, Judge Thorbourne affirmed the 32-month sentence in state prison, which is because of the strike prior. He noted that Chand had “…333 actual days of credit…” Irish clarified that Chand has “…a total aggregate of 666 days,” based on his experience in county jail.
Irish also stated that Chand did not have a source of income and Thorbourne imposed the minimum amount of fines. Thorbourne finished describing Chand’s parole rights.
Ramneet Singh is a third-year student at the University of California, Davis. He is a Political Science major and is pursuing a History minor. He is from Livingston California.
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