Judge Releases Mentally Incompetent Defendant after Case ‘Terms’ Out without Trial

By Beth Miller

FRESNO, CA – Judge Carlos Cabrera here in Fresno County Superior Court this week released defendant Roberto Camacho, charged with sexual battery, with no case resolution because the defendant had already been in custody longer than the six-month maximum sentence for the alleged crime.

In addition, Judge Cabrera noted a medical report determined Camacho to be mentally incompetent to stand trial, and also recommended that Camacho be sent to a medical facility for the purpose of restoring Camacho to mental competency. 

Specifically, doctors recommended the Atascadero facility. However, Judge Cabrera noted two issues with the recommendation: firstly, the Atascadero facility does not take misdemeanor cases; secondly, the court lacks jurisdiction to send Camacho to a mental facility because he is “timed out.”

After reviewing Camacho’s information, Judge Cabrera found that Camacho had spent more than six months in custody. Because six months is the term for a sexual battery charge, Judge Cabrera said that the court could not hold Camacho any longer nor send him to a mental facility.

Judge Cabrera said, “I have been told and I believe that counting the days he’s been in [custody], some in the beginning and some since turning himself back in, amount to more than six months and therefore the court does not have the authority to keep him in custody any longer or even to send him to a facility for mental treatment.”

Judge Cabrera further stated that if the court were to hold Camacho “it would be like kidnapping him and holding him illegally…”

Initially following this statement, Judge Cabrera said that because the defendant “timed out” his term for the sexual battery charge that “this case has ended without a resolution, other than that he’s timed out.” 

After questions were raised about the case status by Deputy District Attorney BreAnne Ruelas and Public Defender Eduardo Cortez, Judge Cabrera declared that the case would not be dismissed until and unless Camacho filed a motion to dismiss.

“The case is subject to be dismissed, but we have to have a motion by the defendant… this is weird to me and probably to a lot of us here,” said Judge Cabrera.

Subsequently, Judge Cabrera released Camacho from custody and set a date for the case to be dismissed—Aug. 12—giving the defense four weeks to file a motion to dismiss. 

Judge Cabrera acknowledged the unusual case, stating, “I understand the frustration of ‘how can we just drop a case without any finding?’”

Additionally, Judge Cabrera recommended that the DDA refer Camacho to county counsel to have a conservatorship, which would be able to oversee Camacho’s daily activities. Judge Cabrera noted that because of Camacho’s age, his family does not have consistent and frequent contact with him. 

About The Author

Beth Miller is a junior at UC Davis studying Public Service and Gender Studies. She is from Ventura, California, and aspires to promote justice and equality in a continuously evolving society.

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