Judge Grants Defendant Chance to Reduce Probation Given ‘Exceptional Circumstances’

By Gina Kim

SANTA BARBARA, CA – Judge Brian Hill suspended judgment for Hilda Carbajal Solis, who was convicted of assault with a deadly weapon by plea here in Santa Barbara County Superior Court Thursday, because of the case’s “exceptional circumstances.” 

Attorney Alberto Sobero petitioned the court to reduce Solis’s felony to a misdemeanor because Solis had no prior criminal history. 

The judge didn’t agree to that, but offered another solution.

The victim claimed Solis had stabbed him accidentally during their tussle, and asked the punishment not be heavy on her. “We both fell to the ground and that’s how it happened,” he stated. Though their relationship was described as volatile, what transpired would not likely be repeated, he said. 

Attorney Sobero requested a lighter sentence—rehabilitation, domestic batterers intervention, substance abuse and life skill programs included. 

Solis had complied with court orders. For the past year, she made no further contact with the victim, and her ankle bracelet was removed. 

“A felony would certainly ruin her life,” Attorney Sobero stated. “I think she deserves another chance.” 

Judge Hill questioned further on how a felony sentence would “ruin her life,” noting the absence of such reasoning in the pre-plea report. 

For noncitizens like Solis, a felony of this nature would result in deportation, whereas a misdemeanor could give the individual a fighting chance, the defense counsel argued. 

In the event deportation proceedings occur two to four years from now, the court could get a withdrawal of the plea, especially given the defendant’s status as a mother of American citizens. This possibility is contingent upon her successful completion of probation. 

Prosecutor Hannah Meyer conceded to keeping an open mind.

“We’ll take a look at it,” Judge Hill assured. 

Although the request to reduce the defendant’s felony to a misdemeanor was denied, Solis has a chance to reduce her three-year probation to eight months on the condition she continues to follow court orders. Her $700 dollar fine would also be excused. 

Prosecutor Meyer recommended Solis serve probation here in Santa Barbara instead of Riverside. This county’s pilot program makes probation a maximum of 26 weeks. Conversely, Riverside County’s probation period amounts to a year. 

The court will reconvene on July 28 next year for a review of the defendant’s performance on probation. If Solis’s probation runs smoothly, the judge will terminate her remaining jail time, whether it be electronic monitoring or actual custody. 

“We might even take other steps, depending on her circumstances,” Judge Hill said.

About The Author

Gina is a sophomore at UCSB majoring in History of Public Policy and Law. She's an aspiring professional writing minor interested in studying law.

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