By Annette Wong-Toi
WOODLAND, CA — Most people would want to avoid spending time in custody, but a select few actually request more jail time.
Fewer would expect a judge to go along with it.
Tuesday, Rebecca Bustamante appeared in Dept. 8 of Yolo County Superior Court for a sentencing regarding two felony charges.
Under her new plea agreement, the defendant’s probation would be terminated, but no further penalty would be added to her recommended one-year sentence.
Already having credit for time in custody, her mandatory supervision on probation would only be 137 days. During this time, she would also have to undergo a mental health assessment and receive treatment as recommended.
However, the defendant had an unusual request.
Instead of spending time on probation, Bustamante asked to serve out the remainder of her sentence in custody, not on probation.
Assistant Public Defender Jose Gonzalez spoke on her behalf. Anticipating a limited capacity to report while under mandatory supervision, he shared that she wanted to “just serve out her time so that when she’s released, she’s done with these cases.”
Perplexed, Judge Peter Williams clarified that she would not be able to receive a mental health assessment, or any following treatment programs.
Still, she requested to spend time in custody.
Deputy District Attorney Michael Vroman expressed his strong opposition to this suggestion.
Because the mandatory supervision was relatively short, he believed that she would be able to overcome any challenges. “I want to at least give her the keys and the tools to start on the right track.”
The judge shot back, “She doesn’t want the keys; she doesn’t want the tools. How will the program work if she doesn’t want ‘em?”
Vroman observed that it appeared as if the defendant was trying to take the easiest path, that of least resistance, by requesting to spend more time in jail.
He argued that he wanted to give her every chance to succeed rather than not trying.
Judge Williams recognized the unfortunate conditions of the situation, noting, “Without the buy-in of the person who needs to undergo these programs, they’ll [continue to appear in court] for probation violations.”
He acknowledged that, while Bustamante knows she can serve jail time and be successful under that sentencing, DDA Vroman still wanted to try. However, he said that sentencing her for mandatory supervision would be “destined for failure.”
The judge sentenced Bustamante to one year of custody, to which she could apply some existing credit to reduce her time.
In line with this ruling, she will not have to undergo a mental health assessment or receive any recommended treatment.
In the end, the defendant’s requests were granted.
As of the day of the hearing, she will spend another 137 days in jail, after which her probation will be terminated upon her release.