By Katherine Longjohn
RIVERSIDE, CA – Judge Sean Crandell granted one final chance to James Cull, by allowing him to avoid prison if he successfully completes an in-patient residential rehab program and incurs no violations throughout the duration of his probation.
The VOP Arraignment (violation of probation) began Friday in Riverside County Superior, with Judge Crandell referring to a chambers conference regarding Cull’s violation of probation that could have landed him in prison.
“(Deputy District Attorney Courtney Breaux) argued that because there is a prior suspended prison term, they wanted it imposed and to send Mr. Cull to state prison for the term of three years,” said the judge.
However, based on the information Deputy Public Defender Christine Juneau provided in chambers, Judge Crandell decided to “give Mr. Cull one final opportunity if he attended an in-patient residential rehab program.”
Judge Crandell made sure he understood what it would entail, noting, “You would still have three years in state prison suspended and you would be waiving any credits that you currently had against that three-year term. And then you would have to complete (the rehab) program.”
Before officially accepting Cull’s admission to a violation of probation, Judge Crandell offered words of compassion and hope for Cull’s position and his rehabilitation.
“I have a lot of people in your situation, sir, who come into this courtroom who are facing a state prison term, and not unlike you they have substance abuse problems, and I would like to see people get better as opposed to just going into custody,” said Judge Crandell.
He continued by warning how “there are a lot of people who ask for treatment and they really don’t have any intention of following through with it. It’s just a way they see to avoid incarceration.”
Judge Crandell specifically mentioned “a gentleman recently who said the exact same things that (Cull is) saying,” and how the judge “vividly remembers him crying in the box in custody, thanking (the judge) that he was going to get better.” But the judge said “he showed up at his rehab center (but then) he walked away.”
Emphasizing how serious this program is, Judge Crandell said “he has the same situation as you, (Mr. Cull), do. A present suspended term and when we find him he’s going to have it imposed (meaning prison).”
Speaking directly to Cull about his position, Judge Crandell said that he hopes that he’s not like one of those people who either uses rehab as a way out of prison or leaves the program, but that he takes advantage of the opportunity.
With this, Cull admitted to his violation of probation, and waived all of his credit toward time served in hopes of successfully completing this rehabilitation program and, in the process, striving for recovery.
Judge Crandell emphasized to Cull that he has two options.
The first is that he can go through the program successfully and not receive any violations and his “probation will expire and he will never go to state prison,” said Judge Crandell.
Or, if he doesn’t complete or decides to leave the program or gets arrested for a new offense, Judge Crandell said that “all of those things would be considered violations… and (he) should expect the three-year sentence to be imposed.”
“So essentially, it’s in your hands,” said Judge Crandell.