Public Defender Corrects Sentencing Mistake, Helps Client Avoid Extra 8 Months in Custody

By Annette Wong-Toi

WOODLAND, CA – A public defender was able to correct a previous oversight that almost led to her client serving eight months in custody she didn’t deserve.

Monique Robinson has a history of driving under the influence, with court appearances dating back to 2017. Tuesday, she appeared in Yolo County Superior Court to be sentenced for an alleged violation of her parole for one of these charges.

However, as soon as the case was called, Deputy Public Defender Erin Dacayanan asked for the deputy district attorney to approach the judge with her. Visible through the court’s YouTube livestream, the judge’s device was muted, and their conversation was held privately. 

After a brief discussion, Judge Peter M. Williams stated that their sidebar concerned a surprise charge in the sentencing report that had not been addressed earlier at the time of Robinson’s plea.

He shared that he’s “not super big on surprising people at time of sentencing,” and that there had been an “oversight in the recommendation from probation [officers].” Because Robinson has had multiple cases with the court, probation had erroneously added another eight months to the wrong case.

The defense also shared that Robinson had already known of and accepted her existing probation arrangement before this mistake was made, and that she has started “getting her life back on track.”

The PD shared that her client had just finished six months of treatment in outpatient care with consistent attendance, and has held a job at the same restaurant for five years. Additionally, she takes care of four children, and owns her own home.

Finally, the public defender stated that Robinson had enrolled herself in an 18-month alcohol education class, proving that she really was making an effort to improve.

The case’s prosecutor agreed that he hadn’t specified a specific amount of time to be added to her probation. He stated that he wanted to ensure that her time in custody across all her cases would not exceed “whatever the upper limit is on disqualifying her for alternative programs.” 

Throughout the hearing, the judge and attorneys made sure to clearly discuss Robinson’s charges, using the case numbers to avoid confusion on which one the sentencing was referring to.

Although probation had wanted to add additional time in custody, PD Dacayanan asked that the court have some leniency given her client’s progress. 

Judge Williams agreed, and chose not to impose the extra time. Instead, Robinson will only have to spend three years on probation.

About The Author

Annette Wong-Toi is a third-year student at UC Davis studying Psychology and Communication. If she isn't learning how to play a new instrument or taking a nap, she's probably feeding the stray cats outside her apartment. She hopes to develop her listening and communication skills to be a better student, writer, and friend.

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