Judge Reduces Felony Charges after Remembering Accused and His Character

By Natalia Ruvalcaba

SACRAMENTO, CA – There are happy endings in court—Judge Lawrence Brown approved a “17(b) motion” to reduce charges from felonies to misdemeanors last Friday in Sacramento Superior County Court after he recognized the accused, who appeared in front of him months ago.

“I’ve seen him before,” noted Judge Brown. To that, Defense Attorney Brian Freedman made note of a third case involving the defendant, that occurred years prior.

“When he was 19 years old he made some very poor decisions. He became addicted to methamphetamine and ended up being convicted on three separate cases,” stated Attorney Freedman.

The attorney then informed Judge Brown that the last case the accused was charged with was brought to the court and in which a PC § 17(b) motion was accepted in Judge Brown’s courtroom.

Attorney Freedman stated that he stands before the court to file the reduction motion for the other two cases from 2017, including unlawful possession of a weapon and grand theft.

The three cases had occurred during a similar timeframe, and, as Attorney Freedman noted, “were the result of an addiction to methamphetamine. Mr. Smith* (name changed for anonymity) was kicked out of his family’s home because of his addiction. He’s suffered these convictions, he did his time and, since his last conviction in 2018, he has not reoffended at all.”

The man’s character was noted as having greatly improved, not only through familial bonds, but through overcoming his addiction and enrolling into college. He is now studying Computer Science in hopes of becoming a computer scientist and Attorney Freedman reported that the acceptance of the motion would expand the accused’s opportunities upon graduation.

“Nice to see you, again” stated Judge Brown as he recollected the last time he saw the man, adding, “I recall very distinctly the sincerity of his owning up to past mistakes and getting on top of life.”

Deputy District Attorney Tate Davis stated, “I’m a little torn, to be honest. I think the defense counsel makes some good points. I like to see his life’s on the right track…though the acts in this case concern me.

“He admits he was doing burglaries in Placer and burglarizing cars here,” noted DDA Davis, “The big concern is the loaded gun and burglarizing property… I love that he’s doing well and I want him to proceed. I don’t want any impediments to that but I also honestly don’t think this kind of conduct should warrant somebody any access to firearms,” which would be allowed if the 17(b) motion is accepted.

In response to DDA Davis’ statements, Attorney Freedman noted that the now 23-year-old accused has changed his life around and poses no risk to public safety.

Judge Brown said he would take a chance, considering the man’s position in addiction when he committed the crimes and the development he has made, and reduced his felony charges to misdemeanors.

About The Author

Natalia is a fourth year at the University of California, Los Angeles majoring in Sociology and minoring in Public Affairs. She looks forward to attending law school in the future, where she hopes to advocate for immigrant rights and/or environmental justice.

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