Judge Compliments ‘Compelling’ Defense Argument, Approves Motions to Dismiss and Reduce Felony Charge in Probation Violation Case

By Allison Hodge

WOODLAND, CA – Judge Tom M. Dyer granted Joseph Lanoue’s petition for dismissal and a motion to reduce a felony case to a misdemeanor in Yolo County Superior Court, Dept. 1 Wednesday, following a “compelling” argument from defense counsel Ashley Vasquez.

The defendant pleaded no contest in 2017 to a felony charge of the concealed carry of a dirk and admitted to a probation violation in 2020. Lanoue also admitted to misdemeanor charges of petty theft and possession of a controlled substance in 2017, along with several other probation violations.

On Wednesday, Vasquez asked to be heard on the two motions and examined the probation violations that Deputy District Attorney Carolyn Palumbo listed as reason enough to deny dismissal.

The prosecution’s motion to deny dismissal and felony reduction based its opposition primarily on a violation that was admitted to in 2020 and argued that this made Lanoue ineligible.

But defense counsel Vasquez maintained that the violation itself was not grounds to completely dismiss the petition.

The defense offered a transcript of the original probation violation hearing, which contained evidence that Lanoue’s misdemeanor probation was terminated because he was already serving felony probation.

In other words, the defendant’s probation was only terminated early because he was serving on felony probation, and not necessarily because of the violations themselves.

The prosecution’s assertion that his cases should not be dismissed based on a single violation admitted in 2020, therefore, should not be considered as serious evidence to deny the dismissal motion.

Vasquez also argued the outstanding behavior that Lanoue had exhibited over the past couple of years.

She argued, “I do also want to point to the fact that Mr. Lanoue has done a tremendous job…he has no new incidents, he has stabilized his life, become drug-free, has a job, and is successfully caring for his son.”

DDA Palumbo offered little pushback and reminded the court that Lanoue had not shown the rehabilitation requirements needed under the dismissal motion.

In response, Vasquez clarified that the 2020 violation actually resulted from the defendant’s 2017 cases, during which he was transient and a drug user.

The defense admitted, “We do not deny he picked up a couple of violations,” but also noted he complied completely with the remainder of the time needed to be served and completion of the felony probation. He also had no other actual violations that resulted from anything past 2017.

After hearing both arguments, Judge Dyer ruled in favor of the defense and granted both the motion to dismiss/expungement and reduction from a felony to misdemeanor motions.

Judge Dyer explained, “Your attorney has also ably put forth a compelling reason to do so…those reasons come from what’s going on in your life.”

After congratulating Lanoue, Judge Dyer concluded, “Sir, with that, I see a positive rehabilitation, and I wish you the best of luck in the future.”

About The Author

Allison is a rising senior at UC Davis, majoring in History and Political Science. She is originally from Clovis, CA, and is pursuing a career in civil rights and/or constitutional law.

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