Defendant Held with No Bail After Judge Hears Dramatically Divergent Counsel Arguments

By Christopher Datu

SACRAMENTO, CA – There may be, as the old television series predicted, a “million stories in the naked city,” and although a bail review hearing in Department 61 of the Sacramento County Superior Court this week heard just two stories, they were dramatically different.

Defendant Virginia Rivas’ $50,000 bail was contested—in the end the court sent her to jail with no bail.

Rivas was living in a halfway house out on parole after a string of 1st degree felony burglaries that earned her 13 years and four months in prison. She was charged with assault likely to result in great bodily injury after an outburst where she attacked the manager and other tenants of the halfway house.

Her defense counsel, Michelle Trigger, requested bail to be lifted and for Rivas to be released from custody.

Trigger said Rivas was a “lifelong Sacramento resident with no significant prior criminal history that posed no danger to public safety.” She also mentioned Rivas was unemployed “without the income or assets to make bail” and her family also couldn’t help with bail monies.

As far as Trigger was aware at the time, Rivas was “not considered a flight risk” and had no previous failures to appear, adding “it would be incredibly difficult for Ms. Rivas to properly prepare with me while she is in custody.”

Deputy District Attorney Kitty Tetrault asked the judge to hold Rivas without bail. Tetrault’s account painted an incredibly different picture of Rivas than the one offered by Trigger.

Tetrault started with the law enforcement’s basis of the current case and compiled the violence of Rivas’ assault.

During her attack, the manager of the halfway house claimed he suffered a scratch to the head that was “bleeding substantially,” “severe bleeding in the groin because she pulled his scrotum,” “cuts on his forearms” and “bites all over.”

Allegedly, Rivas also “threw a boombox” and harassed other tenants who claimed she “went crazy and attacked everyone.”

Tetrault also noted a prior incident from 2011 where Rivas was charged with a “caustic chemical attack.” After coating a pair of gloves with “super glue and another liquid” Rivas allegedly “threw the liquid all over the employee causing burns all over.”

DD Tetrault said Rivas had six prior failures to appear before court, completely contradictory to Trigger’s earlier claims, and characterized Rivas as a “danger to the community” with a “good chance she won’t come back to court.”

Judge Geoffrey Goodman found himself agreeing with prosecutor Tetrault. After hearing Tetrault’s account of the facts, Goodman believed Rivas to be “extremely violent” given the extent of the harm in the current case and consideration of her prior caustic chemical attack charge.

The fact that “she was out on parole and still comported herself in this way” made Goodman feel “there is no combination of conditions to secure both the public good and her appearance.”

Goodman ultimately held Rivas in custody without bail and the preliminary hearing was set for July 22.

Christopher Datu is a 4th year Political Science major at UC Davis. He is originally from Corona, California.

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