Defendant in Domestic Violence Case Released for Mental Health Treatment Program

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By Elizabeth Garabedian

SANTA BARBARA, CA- A preliminary hearing setting was held for Christian Hernandez today in Santa Barbara County Superior Court, where the defense requested the release of Hernandez, following previous discussions of this possibility during the last hearing.

Earlier in the year, Hernandez was allegedly involved in multiple instances of domestic violence where he became physically violent towards his girlfriend while he was off of his meds. He was charged with two felonies and a misdemeanor, and the court felt it would be inclined to release him if there was a more defined plan for him to get the help he needed.

Rebecca Seldin, Hernandez’s attorney, asked that he be put on supervised release and given enough medication so that he has time to meet with a doctor and enroll in a mental health program.

Deputy District Attorney Elizabeth Branch objected to his release, citing three instances in the past year where he had outbursts related to his mental health, two of which were violent.

DDA Branch claimed, in one instance, a witness saw Hernandez hitting and kicking his girlfriend and then trying to force her into a car. In the second instance, police officers were called to his residence for a wellness check when they saw Hernandez push his girlfriend. When officers intervened, Hernandez violently resisted arrest and incurred an additional felony charge during the altercation.

Branch stated her office was concerned Hernandez was a danger to himself and others because he was not taking his medication during these instances of violence. She continued to oppose this release by acknowledging the possibility that Hernandez may pick up more charges if he does not take his medicine, as his previous behavior has shown.

Branch asked that upon his release, Herandez reside with his father in order to protect his girlfriend, the alleged victim.

Defense Attorney Seldin said that Hernandez preferred to live with his girlfriend who is pregnant with his child, and who has another child that he helps co-parent. Seldin also said Hernandez was “more than willing” to participate in Sanctuary Centers mental health treatment, take his medication and work with doctors.

The alleged victim, Hernandez’s girlfriend, was present in court today and affirmed that the one incident of domestic violence occurred in their own home where her mother and his family were witnesses.

Judge Deroian determined that it would be best for Hernandez to live with his father temporarily so that he can understand the severity of his actions and how important it is to take his medication. The current status of the criminal protective order in place is no MATH, but the Judge has allowed him to have peaceful contact with his girlfriend.

After reading Hernandez his rights and the rules he is subject to upon his release, Judge Deroian stated that “there is nothing shameful about mental health, everyone struggles with it at least one point in their life.”

Hernandez must attend outpatient treatment at Sanctuary Centers of Santa Barbara, work with mental health advocates, and follow instructions from his doctor concerning his medication.

Judge Deroian emphasized the importance of taking his medication and attending this mental health program so that he can “remain out of custody”. She went on to say: “It’s time to adult, it’s time to take this serious… so you can be there for your baby.”

Hernandez is scheduled to come back to court on July 30 for his preliminary hearing so Judge Deroian can make sure that he is participating in the Sanctuary Centers mental health program.

The court will reconvene again on Aug. 6 so Judge Deroian can evaluate his progress and determine if he should be allowed to live with his girlfriend again.

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