Judge Grants Accused His Passport Back Despite Prosecution Concerns He May Flee

By Wendy Moya

OAKLAND, CA – Gabriel Sanchez, one of two defendants being currently charged with rape and kidnap, among other felony charges, will get his passport back, according to a ruling here in Alameda County Superior Court Wednesday by Oakland Judge Stephanie Sato.

Assistant District Attorneys Michael Nieto and Butch Ford opened the session by stressing that the graveness of the crimes and the charges against Sanchez make him a flight risk, especially if he is in possession of his passport.

Ford maintained that two individuals, one of which is alleged to be Sanchez, kidnapped an 18-year-old young woman from the front of her house, moved her to a different location, and proceeded to repeatedly sexually assault and rape her.

Defendant B, not named, denied any crime taking place, claiming that they were simply giving her a ride and she left her cell phone in the back of their vehicle.

ADA Ford stated that, based on his prior experience, this case is “not very likely to resolve” and Sanchez presents a flight risk.

However, Defense Attorney Jesse Garcia responded to these claims by stating his client’s bail had already been set, his client was not in custody, and he was “not deemed to be a clear and present danger.”

Garcia claimed that there is no legitimate reason to keep Sanchez’s passport from him, unless they had argued that Sanchez posed a flight risk while he was still in custody.

Garcia stated that the passport was neither contraband nor did it serve any evidentiary purpose.

ADA Ford responded that many defendants are asked to surrender their passports in order to comply with their bail conditions, and, under the present circumstances, it’s a condition that should be added to Sanchez’s bail.

Judge Sato asked ADA Ford whether the passport had any evidentiary value or whether they were asking to withhold the passport from Sanchez simply because of the flight risk associated with such serious charges. She also asked why they didn’t request to keep the passport from Sanchez from the beginning of the case when he was being held.

Ford responded that there is always a consideration for flight risk when the charges presented against the alleged assailant are of this magnitude.

Responding to the question as to why the passport was not addressed when bail was set, Ford stated that the passport was already under law enforcement possession and was, therefore, not discussed at the setting of bail.

Defense Attorney Garcia responded that this was the “inappropriate venue” to alter the conditions of Sanchez’s bail, and the prosecutors should file a motion if they want to modify his client’s bail conditions.

Judge Sato agreed, ruling the passport should be returned to Sanchez because it is of no evidentiary value and this hearing was also not the appropriate venue to go about prohibiting Sanchez from getting his passport returned.

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