By Tatiana Gasca
ALAMEDA, CA – William Edward Fletcher—after providing major self-improvement arguments in Alameda County Superior Court Friday—was given a break by a judge here, who set reasonable bail and did not declare Fletcher a public safety risk.
Fletcher had recently been charged for driving under the influence while unlicensed, and faces a separate felony charge for violating his probation order.
The defendant has gathered over 20 failures to appear in court and did not attend his plea hearing on July 20.
Deputy District Attorney Brooke Daniel Perkins argued that the defendant poses a flight risk to the community due to the dangerousness of the DUI charge and his county record.
Defense Attorney Michael James Mullan said, “The notice to appear was actually sent to his previous address, and that he was only made aware of the missed court date when they received the notice the day of,” adding, “The representation that he is a flight risk in this case is not accurate.”
The defense attorney emphasized that Fletcher is needed at home to support his partner and children. The defendant and his girlfriend both share two children together, a four-year-old and an eight-year-old.
The eight-year-old child began attending school at home, where Fletcher is one of the primary people that is able to support them.
In addition, defense attorney Mullan adds, “His four-year-old is in the process of being evaluated with autism and so he is needed at home in order to help assist with his special needs child.”
Mullan expressed that the defendant demonstrated major self-improvement, following his two pending cases, noting, “Mr. Fletcher has actually indicated to me that he has a job offer if he is not remanded into custody.”
Mullan added the defendant has lived in Alameda his entire life, where he has been able to develop connections to the community, maintaining, “He indicates that his mother is currently suffering from some debilitating memory issues and he needs to be out of custody. Not only to support his children, but his mother.”
Fletcher, said his defense counsel, has been taking the matter very seriously, as his girlfriend makes the effort get him around in order to ensure that he does not drive.
“Mr. Fletcher has ties to the community, is not a flight risk, has job prospects, and notwithstanding…he is deserving of a chance to remain out of custody, demonstrates to the court that he’s not a danger to the community or a flight risk,” concludes Mullan.
Evidence also shows Fletcher has been participating at Second Chance, a substance abuse treatment center to support individuals on the path to recovery.
The defendant has been attending the treatment center three times a week, participates in group sessions two times a week, and attends one individual session. He is also tested once per week as a way to assess his progress.
“The best thing to do in this situation is to order him to remain out of custody on his own recognizance, but with the condition that he does not drive and he continues to attend Second Chance,” stated Mullan.
Given the defendant’s circumstances, defense attorney Mullan clarified that Fletcher is unable to afford more than $1,000 bail.
Judge Stuart Hing ruled, “I am going to set bail in the amount of $5,000 but give Mr. Fletcher a chance to post it in three weeks. I’ll make a finding that the charge poses a risk to public safety is exempt and that’s by clear and convincing evidence.”
Fletcher’s set bail amount is $5,000 for each charge, to a total amount of $10,000. The cost of obtaining bail for that amount is about $1,000 from a bail bond company.
His plea date is set for Aug. 25.