Prosecution Objects, but Judge Gives Several People a Chance to Move On from Previous Felony Convictions

By Alexander Jimenez

OAKLAND, CA – Several petitions to reduce past felony convictions to misdemeanors were granted here in Alameda County Superior Court last week, opening the door for new opportunities for felons, and helping them move on from previous troubled pasts.

An overall theme was observed, where Judge Sharon Djemal, considering positive probation reports, strong recommendation letters and changing life circumstances, granted the petitions for reduced felony charges despite opposition from prosecuting attorney Veronica Rios Reddick.

In most cases, defendants had carried felony convictions dating back as far as 2004. Many requested the petition for work opportunities, training applications, or to simply put the past behind them.

Jennifer Duncan had a serious charge related to an alcohol incident, in which she rear-ended a car, causing that car to hit two pedestrians causing concussions and loss of consciousness, rendering one of the victims unable to work for over a month. Duncan had a .32 blood alcohol content the time of the incident.

Duncan, however, showing “tremendous growth” according to Judge Djemal, had enrolled in nursing school, had a 4.0 grade point average, and regularly attended AA meetings, living an alcohol-free life.

The judge viewed this very favorably, even going so far as stating that a 2014 probation report had been “one of the most positive probation reports I’ve ever read.”

Based on years of positive contributions to the community, the circumstances, and letters in support, the judge granted the request for a felony reduction.

In another case, Ramon Jimenez has struggled to seek employment because of a felony background on his record.

Defense attorney Rebecca Oyama said that Jimenez also sought this request “in part because of his role in caring for his four-year-old daughter” and needs to obtain financial security. Removal of a felony from the record would help him in securing employment.

Once again the prosecution had objected based on the facts and conduct alleged in a robbery incident.

The judge admitted that had it not been for receiving last minute letters of support, she would not have enough information to grant the request. Again the judge opted to reduce the felony charge to a misdemeanor.

Throughout the day the court was presented with people wanting to move on from their past in pursuit of better and new opportunities—the judge seemed to be ready to take into account life circumstances to help provide new opportunities and hope for those wanting to turn their lives around.

About The Author

Alex Jimenez is a 4th year politcal science major at the University of Calfornia, Berkeley. He has future aspirations to attend law school and is from Pleasanton, Ca.

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