Judge Grants Victim’s Request to Reduce Length of Protective Order

By Sahaily Zazueta

RIVERSIDE, CA – Braulio Castellanos Zuniga was sentenced to nearly a year in jail here in Riverside County Superior Court last week, and had a three-year protective order issued—but after credit for time-served and a supportive victim’s statement, he walked out of court a free man and the order was shortened to one year.

In one criminal case, Zuniga is charged with stalking with an active restraining order.

After the sentencing, the victim addressed Judge Judith Clark with a request to shorten the length of the criminal protective order against Zuniga from three years to one year.

Deputy District Attorney Allison Gray informed Judge Clark that the Jane Doe in this case was present in the courtroom and wanted to request a one-year no-contact order instead of the three-year order that the district attorney’s office had submitted to the court.

DDA Gray asked if the court could hear from the victim regarding changing the length of the criminal protective order. Judge Clark agreed to let the victim address the court after the sentencing.

Jane Doe is also requesting restitution, but the amount is in dispute. A contested restitution hearing will be held March 25.

For the felony charge of stalking with an active restraining order, Judge Clark sentenced Zuniga to 184 days in county jail and formal probation for a period of 36 months.

Zuniga has credit for 184 days served, resulting in a balance of 0 days. Judge Clark also directed that he enroll in the 52-week domestic violence program no later than March 7. He must file proof of his enrollment with his probation officer by March 8.

As a result of his plea, Zuniga cannot own or possess firearms, ammunition, or magazines. He has signed the Prohibited Persons Relinquishment Form acknowledging that he does not own or possess any of those prohibited items. The defendant did own a handgun, but it was seized on Sept. 21, 2021, the day of his arrest.

For the misdemeanor charge of willfully resisting arrest pursuant to the plea agreement, probation was denied. Zuniga was ordered to serve 157 days. He had credit for 157 days served, leaving a balance of 0 days.

The victim then stepped forward to address Judge Clark. She requested that the court change the length of the criminal protective order because of her children, noting, “They want a dad… I just want what’s best for my kids.”

Judge Clark informed the victim that there was already an exception in the current order that allowed peaceful contact to exchange the children for court-ordered visitation. Zuniga or the victim can file with the family law court and ask for visitation orders to be issued.

Judge Clark explained that if the length of the order is shortened and things do not go well, the victim will have to return to court, file for a new restraining order, justify it, have a court grant it, and serve the order.

“If I issue it for three years and things go well, you can come back in a year and ask to change it and then you don’t have to justify wanting anything. If it doesn’t go well then you don’t have to do anything and you’ll keep it for three years,” said the judge.

The victim still decided to shorten the length of the protective order against Zuniga to one year. Judge Clark granted this modification.

In place of the three-year protective order that was issued on Sept. 23, 2021, Judge Clark issued a one-year criminal protective order that will be in place until Jan. 28, 2023.

About The Author

The Vanguard Court Watch operates in Yolo, Sacramento and Sacramento Counties with a mission to monitor and report on court cases. Anyone interested in interning at the Courthouse or volunteering to monitor cases should contact the Vanguard at info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org - please email info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org if you find inaccuracies in this report.

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