Defense Argues Recommended Sentence Would Deeply Burden the Family Unit – Judge Imposes It Anyway

By  Ivan Villegas

WOODLAND, CA – “I think a significant time in custody is going to pose a deeper burden on the family unit than I think is necessary when we are trying to rehabilitate someone,” said Deputy Public Defender James Bradford this week during a sentencing hearing in a domestic violence case here in Yolo County Superior Court.

The accused was convicted of multiple felonies, including false imprisonment with force or violence and exhibiting a violent weapon other than a firearm last year in May and pleaded no contest earlier this year.

The accused was released on his own recognizance and a protective order was issued, forbidding him from coming in contact with his spouse, who was the alleged victim.

The accused had additional charges added in July of this year, including inflicting corporal injury on a spouse/cohabitant and threatening commission of a crime with the intent to terrorize. Given that these crimes violated his condition of release, sentencing enhancements were added.

During the hearing, Deputy District Attorney Frits Van Der Hoek informed Judge Timothy Fall that the victim, the accused’s wife, was present and “desires a peaceful contact order instead of the no-contact order that is currently in place, because she does want contact with the defendant.”

Judge Fall asked the victim, “you heard the prosecutor just mention the change in the protective order. Is that what you’re asking for?” The victim confirmed that she indeed wanted the change.

Judge Fall then asked for any additional comments regarding sentencing issues.

“I would just ask the court to consider imposing less custody time between the two cases than is recommended,” DPD Bradford commented, adding, “He is, as the Court is aware, here in support of his wife, who is the victim in this domestic violence case, and his two children who are eager to get him back home as soon as possible.”

DPD Bradford admitted the recommended sentence of 180 days in custody might be appropriate given the conduct he pleaded guilty to, but added, “he [the accused] did take early responsibility for the conduct. Part of why we were able to reach a resolution in the earlier case…is that he had been in custody without issue…without having made contact with the alleged victim or any other issues there.”

Judge Fall first addressed the issue of the burden of the family in a serious, almost didactic tone.

“The burden on the family is real, this is what happens when one engages in criminal activity. Families are burdened by that, and they are doubly burdened by not having the support of someone when they are also the victims of the crime itself,” the judge said.

The judge then explained that he thought the recommended sentence was appropriate given the fact that the criminal conduct was “serial activity.”

“In the first case, there was a weapon involved…and in the second case, he was out of custody with charges pending, a promise that he would not commit new crimes, then he goes and commits a new crime. That’s why 180 days is not high at all, but it is completely appropriate,” the judge explained

Ultimately, it was clear Judge Fall was not convinced of DPD Bradford’s argument and imposed the sentence of 180 days in custody, with time served, three years of probation, and granted the change in the protective order.

“If you comply with all of the probation terms, then in three years the last of your probation is done with no further punishment than what is ordered today,” noted Judge Fall.

About The Author

Ivan Villegas (he/him) is a criminal justice graduate from CSU Sacramento. He wishes to continue his studies in law school starting in fall 2023. He is interested in immigration and international law, and hopes to use his degree for a career as an immigration attorney.

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