Judge Tells Man Driving Drunk on Suspended License and Gun It Was ‘Recipe for Disaster’ But ‘Lucky’ Not Going to Prison

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By Leslie Ortiz and Stacie Guevara

SACRAMENTO, CA – David Fonua appeared in Sacramento County Superior Court Tuesday morning, charged with driving drunk with a suspended license and being in possession of a gun.

Judge Michael Bowman – after agreeing to probation and alternative sentencing, told Fonua, “you are very lucky you’re not going to state prison,” adding, “Let me tell you, driving around drunk with a prior conviction on a suspended license with a gun is a recipe for disaster.”

In contrast, Fonua’s attorney called it a fairly light record of a misdemeanor and only one felony. Nevertheless, the circumstance was magnetized by the fact that Fonua had a suspended license, suggested the court.

Deputy District Attorney Lauren Giles said Fonua was prohibited from possessing firearms due to a felony conviction in late 2019.

When Fonua appeared in court Tuesday morning, the plan was to release him, but his attorney and Giles had a back and forth on the matter about giving him a surrender date and getting him on home detention.

Giles and Fonua’s attorney needed to discuss the matter, so during the court’s livestream, Judge Bowman said, “I’m not a big fan of negotiating on YouTube during the middle of a calendar.”

Because of this, Giles took a five-minute break to review her files and when she came back, Judge Bowman resolved the case with alternative sentencing.

Fonua’s attorney said Fonua would plead no contest to count one for 365 days, to be released and apply for home detention with a surrender date, and two years formal probation.

Fonua’s attorney said count three was waived for drug conditions and for count five, Fonua pleaded no contest to the second DUI.

DDA Giles said for the violation of probation, Fonua would be admitted and reinstated for no additional time. She said on Oct. 2, Fonua was in custody of a 45-caliber handgun, found by officers during a DUI investigation.

The agreement was that Fonua would be placed on two years of formal probation, and be released so he would have the opportunity to apply to home detention. If Fonua were to violate a term or condition of probation, he would possibly serve three years in state prison.

Fonua entered a no contest plea for possession of a firearm and driving with blood alcohol of .08 percent or greater, which was a misdemeanor charge. He also admitted to a prior conviction for the same offense on Oct. 14, 2015.

The pleas were accepted by the court and probation was granted.

Fonua was placed on probation for two years of felony and four years of informal probation. Terms and conditions of probation included serving 364 days for count one, and serving 10 days for count five if he violated probation.

“As a part of this plea bargain,” Judge Bowman stated, “Mr. Fonua would be released today” with the ability to apply to alternative work programs or for home detention.

However, Judge Bowman said that if Fonua was not accepted or did not sign up for alternative programs, “he is to turn in at the main jail Dec. 3 at six o’clock.”

After Fonua accepted the terms and conditions of probation, Judge Bowman said “you are very lucky you’re not going to state prison.”

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About The Author

Leslie Ortiz is a junior at UC Davis majoring in Political Science and English. She is passionate about being a voice for those who are underrepresented and aspires to become a lawyer.

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