Man in Court for Traffic Matters Turns Deal Down, Requests Public Defender

By Stacie Guevara

SACRAMENTO, CA – Antwain Johnson refused the prosecution’s offer, and requested an attorney Tuesday here in Sacramento County Superior Court after being charged with a traffic infraction and a misdemeanor of driving on a suspended license.

Judge Philip F. Stanger said Johnson was found driving Feb. 24 on a suspended license. He said the offense was punishable by up to one year of probation and up to six months in the county jail, along with a $500 fine.

Judge Stanger then turned to Deputy District Attorney Kelly Mulcahy, who explained some of the conditions of the offer being presented to Johnson—10 days in county jail along with a $300 fee and one-year informal probation. Or non-jail alternatives.

Judge Stanger told Johnson the terms of his informal probation would consist only of the following: obey all laws. He instructed Johnson not to operate a motor vehicle without an ignition interlock or operate on or possess a vehicle without an ignition interlock device installed.

“Because of that, most people, by far, almost unanimously do two additional days [in jail],” Judge Stanger added. “By doing the two additional days, you save the $1,400. In addition to the 10 days, the 10 and the two days totals 12 days, so as long as you stay out of trouble and follow the rules (in jail), those 12 days gets reduced to six days.”

Judge Stanger continued, noting that for all six of those days, Johnson could do work project or home detention (instead of jail time). He said if Johnson completes work project or home detention, he can avoid doing any jail time at all and having to pay the $1,400.

Judge Stanger told Johnson either program was available to him and explained how each works, saying that Johnson would be sent paperwork in the mail.

Judge Stanger explained that the work project is an eight-hour shift that could be done more than once a week. He said home detention is what may be thought of as house arrest, where Johnson would be monitored. He could go to and from a single place of work, but that’s it.

Johnson asked a clarifying question and Judge Stanger repeated the process to make sure Johnson understood, saying, “You pick which one is the better one you want to get done. Schedule a date to get it done. Just follow through and get it done. It’s as simple as that.”

After it was clear that Johnson understood, Judge Stanger offered him a choice between three options: taking the offer and pleading guilty or no contest, hiring an attorney or having the court appoint him a public defender.

Judge Stanger said if Johnson wanted to hire an attorney, Stanger would continue the matter for about four weeks for that purpose. If, instead of that, Johnson wanted to ask for a public defender to represent him, Stanger said he would continue the matter for about three months.

Johnson refused the offer and asked if the court would appoint him a public defender.

Judge Stanger gave Johnson the public defender’s phone number and instructed him to text that number, keeping in contact with the public defender and staying in touch.

Judge Stanger said the public defender would get back to Johnson within a few months to talk to him about his case.

Johnson’s next court date is Feb. 1, 2022, at 9:30 a.m. in Department 84.

About The Author

Stacie Guevara (she/her) is a fourth-year at UC Davis majoring in Communication and minoring in Professional Writing. She is from the San Francisco Bay Area and is interested in going into journalism.

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