Judge Rules 2-Hour Interview Not Good Enough to Defer Drug Charges – Accused Must Now Attend Drug Program after Judge Balks

By Leila Katibah

MODESTO, CA – Stanislaus County Superior Court Judge Carrie M. Stephens ruled a man’s two-hour long assessment at a drug treatment program was not substantial enough to defer a sentencing hearing for a misdemeanor drug possession offense and to dismiss the case.

Per California law, the court noted, an accused can get a charge dismissed as a first-time offender upon completion of a drug treatment program.

And Deputy Public Defender Ibn Omar Abdullah noted that “my client has no law violations,” and provided proof of an assessment from the Center for Human Services.

“They drug tested him and interviewed him for over two and a half hours and came to the conclusion that he had been clean for a year and eight months,” continued the PD, noting the drug treatment center recommended no further treatment.

Therefore, the public defender argued, the accused fulfilled the requirements for the deferred sentencing

“The term was that he complete outpatient treatment,” responded Judge Stephens. She stated an assessment was not substantial enough to defer sentencing, and that she imagined the defendant “went to that assessment and said, ‘I don’t need treatment, I’ve been clean, I managed to stay clean on my own for a year and a half,’” causing the center not to recommend treatment for him.

“Under the circumstances, I’m assuming that’s what happened,” continued Judge Stephens, “I don’t really know that meets the requirements of the deferred entry judgment.”

The PD responded that in his prior discussions with Deputy District Attorney James Howard Langston, they were in agreement that the assessment was sufficient, according to the court orders set during the pretrial in March earlier this year.

Deputy District Attorney James H. Langston reaffirmed he “would be more comfortable with a period in a class” for drug rehabilitation, agreeing that an assessment alone was not enough to fulfill the terms of a deferred sentence.

The sentencing hearing was rescheduled for December, allowing time for the accused to attend a treatment program, despite the professional assessment rendering him clean for almost two years.

About The Author

Leila Katibah is an undergraduate student at the University of California, Santa Barbara. She is double majoring in Sociology and Middle East Studies with a minor in Professional Writing. After graduating, Leila plans to attend law school to pursue a career in Public International Law.

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