Judge Questions Plea Deal for Only Probation, Warns Man He Could Still Go to Prison

By Gracy Joslin

WOODLAND, CA – In Yolo County Superior Court this week, Deputy Public Defender Jose Gonzales addressed Judge Peter M. Williams’ concerns about a plea agreement reached that involved only probation for multiple felonies.

In this case, according to the police report, the accused allegedly “did an MMA style move on this woman (the reporting witness), put his hand behind her head and did a knee strike to her face. Then, he looked like he began to strangle her,” according to the prosecution’s report.

According to a recap of events by police, on New Year’s Eve of 2021, the accused had been drinking and “rough housing” with his children which upset the mother of one of the kids, eventually leading to an argument.

The accused was charged with three felonies and one misdemeanor pertaining to this event which included assault by force, infliction of injury to the mother of his child, violation of her liberty and endangering the child who was present.

PD Gonzalez argued, “I understand as alleged it looks alarming, but it really wasn’t, judge,” acknowledging Deputy District Attorney Jesse Vaughn Richardson did his “due diligence” when making the offer.

In addition, he stated the witness reached out to both the District Attorney’s and Public Defender’s Offices to renew contact between the defendant and herself as “he (defendant) is a reliable partner and father to his children ” and has no previous criminal history.

After listening to PD Gonzalez, Judge Williams still remained puzzled as to how there would be no prison time required for the accused to serve “with those kinds of facts.”

In response, PD Gonzalez reminded the court that there was no preliminary hearing, which would have looked at evidence beyond just simply the police report.

Thus, emphasizing “fact finding based on a police report or the probation report is not something any of us are in a position to deal with without a preliminary hearing.”

Stepping in for DDA Richardson, Deputy District Attorney Michael Vrooman noted that even though the reporting witness does not want to uphold a protective order, he asked the court to make note that the accused is not to threaten or harass the victim in any annoying manner.

Eventually, Judge Williams accepted the offer for three years’ formal probation, but outlined some “notable terms.”

Although not required to serve time, the accused will never be allowed to possess any dangerous weapons in his lifetime, must comply with conditions specific to domestic violence offenders, enroll in a batterer’s treatment course, and complete eight hours of community service.

Before going off record, Judge Williams addressed the accused directly, warning him, if he violates these terms he can still end up in state prison.

About The Author

Gracy is a 4th Year at UC Davis studying Political Science and minoring in Communications and Sociology. Post graduation plans include traveling and then eventually attending Law School.

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