Interpreter Makes Early Exit, Leaving Accused in Lurch after Pleading to Charges

By Diana Quirarte

MODESTO, CA –A man who pleaded to possession of an illegal substance, cocaine, but who lacks English skills, used an interpreter here in Stanislaus County Superior Court this week—but the interpreter left before the defense attorney finished explaining the terms of the man’s sentence.

The accused awaited his sentencing, pleading to Count 1 on offenses of illegal drug possession with intent to sell. The accused was accompanied by private attorney Julissa Echevarria.

Brief pauses took place throughout the sentencing to allow Cruz time to interpret, from English to Spanish. The accused was sentenced to 60 days in Stanislaus County Jail after the deputy district attorney stated the accused was “found in possession of more than one ounce of cocaine, along with $3,000 in the bag, and $50,000 more in the truck” on April 30, 2020.

General terms of probation were placed into motion along with the explanation of immigration and deportation consequences and the maximum sentencing of four years in prison if probation is violated.

Judge Shawn Bessey quickly went through the terms of probation, then dismissed the case. The interpreter took the hearing aid the defendant was using and exited the building as the accused and Echevarria lagged behind.

But defense attorney Echevarria wasn’t finished—he continued to go over the terms the judge presented and answered questions his client had following the sentencing.

The accused’s attorney was bilingual but, if he hadn’t been, the accused may not have been able to fully understand all the terms of probation that were presented by the court.

About The Author

Diana is a fourth year student at UCSB, who is working towards a double major in Feminist Studies and Sociology, along with a minor in applied psychology. After undergrad, she has plans to takes a gap year in order to study for the LSAT before going to law school.

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