Defendant Waiting for Mental Health Evaluation Pleads for Release by Court – Already in Custody for 90 Days

By Casey Rawlings

SANTA BARBARA, CA – Defendant Paul Renae Santos had a court appearance in Santa Barbara County Superior Court late last week to review the results of a mental competency evaluation after being charged with multiple misdemeanors and a lower level felony. 

While the court debated the efficacy of evaluation reports, Santos just wants to be released.

Santos was arrested in early May of this year after being charged with multiple misdemeanors, including using a hostage to avoid arrest, possession of drug paraphernalia, and trespassing on private property. He was also charged with elder abuse, a felony.

Santos pleaded not guilty to all of his charges. 

Santos has also accumulated another misdemeanor charge for molestation or annoyance of a child under the age of 18 years old, to which he pleaded not guilty. 

After two months of incarceration, in July, a mental health consideration was noticed because of increasing concerns about Santos’ competency to stand trial.

A month later, conflicting psychological evaluation reports were filed by two different doctors, facilitating an incomplete hearing, when Judge Von Deroian declared that a consensus must be met by the doctors before a trial can proceed. 

One doctor concluded that Santos was unfit to stand trial, support by the public defender’s office that said “his report is accurate, given his analysis and what we have seen in court.” 

Jenny Andrews, Santos’ attorney, agreed. However, since Dr. Angelo’s report was not explicit in his resolution, she asked the court to contact the doctor to update his report to express a clearer conclusion. 

Conversely, another doctor who assessed Santos said he was competent, noted “although he {Santos} exhibits signs of clear psychological illness, it doesn’t impair his factual understanding of the status of his case.” 

Judge Von Deroian planned to speak with the doctors to determine Santos’ competency. She scheduled a return for status for later this week, stating that “we may not have an updated report, but I want a status report.”

She then specified that “criminal proceedings remain suspended, as it pertains to Penal Code 1368.” This penal code requires the suspension of all proceedings in criminal prosecution until the court has ordered a hearing into competency of the defendant, which is secured under the 6th Amendment, that ensures the right to representation.

However, due to a potential PC § 290 registration, which states that defendants convicted of sex crimes are required to register as sex offenders with local authorities, the judge also expressed that a mental health diversion may be impossible, as those convicted of sex offenses are ineligible for mental health diversions. 

Upon hearing that his case was being delayed, Santos expressed his disappointment, explaining, “I’ve been here for 90 days, I feel like I shouldn’t have to stay in custody until the competency form is updated.”

He continued by specifying familial concerns he needed to attend to, noting, “I just want to go home to my family. My dad is getting old, my daughter is eight years old, she’s doing gymnastics and she’s doing really good. I just want to be a part of her life, so can I please go home next week?” 

Santos continued to elaborate on how his emotional wellness is impacted by his continued incarceration. He explained the conditions in the jail, stating, “It’s miserable in this place, it’s really, really hard.” 

He concluded by reaffirming his readiness to return home, care for his family, and expressed his dedication to staying on his best behavior until then. 

The court confirmed the court date for this week. 

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