Defense Successfully Argues Delay in Prosecuting Man Too Long Even Considering COVID – Judge Tosses Case

By S. Priana Aquino

ALAMEDA, CA — Late last Friday, “the accused”—the Vanguard doesn’t usually name those charged with misdemeanors or have their charges dismissed—appeared in Alameda County Superior Court for a motion to dismiss his case.

The judge ultimately agreed and tossed the case, freeing the accused.

Through counsel, the accused explained to the court why his case was not only an example of the negative effects the COVID pandemic has had on the legislative system, but also how he was a victim of prejudice in this case.

The defense first pointed out the accused was not adequately informed that there was even an open case against him. According to his lawyers, he had only been sent one notice of the charge, when he should have been sent multiple.

“If the government can charge these cases, and evaluate discovery enough to charge people with crimes, they can also send people more than a single notice to notify them that such a case exists and failure to appear does not contribute to the delay,” argued the defense.

“First, I just want to note that the court…there is inherent prejudice whenever an individual is subject to unreasonable delay pending a complaint that they are unaware of causes significant effects to their life,” said the defense.

They continued to explain that the accused could not remember significant details regarding the event in which this case pertained to. They pointed out that this severely affected their team’s ability to prepare his defense.

“Second, the accused suffers from prolonged stress and anxiety about his immigration status in the United States, but (also) because of the continued stress of this case,” added the defense.

“He’s lived in the United States for over 15 years. This is home, where he sees himself living long term. But because of this ongoing case, he’s anxious and afraid of how this case impacts his ability to remain here,” defense counsel said.

The accused also takes care of his mother who resides in his country of origin, and relies on him for financial support, added the defense, describing the fear he has daily that he will lose his job and be sent away and be unable to care for her.

Finally, the defense pointed out that because of this outstanding bench warrant, he spent a night in jail amid the COVID pandemic (there), which significantly increased his exposure to the virus.

“So, in this instance, there is, in fact, considerable presumptive and actual prejudice that resulted from this delay and the DA has yet to provide any satisfactory explanation for why they only sent a single notice to someone they’ve charged with a crime. So this case must be dismissed,” stated the defense.

After the defense’s lengthy explanation, Judge Karin Schwartz explained, “With respect to the delay, the court does find that the pandemic does provide justification for some amount of delay… all parties were suspended for a period of time in every state because of how intense the pandemic was.

“It’s important to come back and remember how disruptive that was, so certainly that provides a justification for some portion of the delay. However, in this case, the delay extended beyond what was justified by the pandemic,” the judge added.

The court found that the accused had established a right to dismiss his case, and he was exonerated of any outstanding bonds and CPOs held against him.

About The Author

S. Priana Aquino is a rising Senior at the University of San Francisco, majoring in Business with minors in Legal Studies and Public Service & Community Engagement. Upon graduation, she hopes to attend law school and continue her work in uplifting and advocating for communities of color.

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