Powerful Statement Given by Brave Witness in Domestic Violence Case Before Sentencing – Judge Still Reduces Felony to Misdemeanor

By Citlalli Florez

WOODLAND, CA – What initially was scheduled as a pre-hearing conference became a plea hearing in the matter of a domestic abuse case here this week in Yolo County Superior Court.

And, before the final sentence was given, an emotional—and upset—victim offered testimony directed toward the court about justice and its meaning.

The judge praised her for the statement but later reduced the felony charge to one misdemeanor for the accused, who is not being named because there was not a felony charged.

The accused was initially being charged with three felonies and three misdemeanors. The felonies included: inflicting corporal injury on a spouse/cohabitant, being in possession of a firearm after a felony conviction, and being in possession of ammunition after a felony conviction.

The misdemeanors included carrying a concealed firearm in a vehicle, carrying a loaded firearm in a public place, and injuring a wireless communication device with the intention to prevent the summoning of assistance from law enforcement officials.

During the arraignment, the accused pleaded not guilty to all charges brought against him.

At the same time, a protective order was issued for the victim witness who would later provide a statement. The order is to be valid until 2025. This would later be amended from a no-harassment to a no-contact criminal protective order.

Records from Medicopy services and Sutter Medical Center were ordered to be released by the court. The records were obtained in time for the first pre-hearing conference in August.

On Sept.26 during the most recent pre-hearing conference, the accused’s retained attorney, David Knoll, asked the judge if he would hear a plea for a misdemeanor. The accused would take a plea of no contest for corporal injury on a spouse or partner.

However, taking this plea would result in the acceptance of a plea deal offered by Deputy District Attorney Carolyn Palumbo. Count 1 of inflicting corporal injury on a spouse or cohabitant would be reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor, based on the accused’s age and his having no prior criminal history.

The agreement also included three years of misdemeanor summary probation, a batterers treatment program referral, eight hours of community service, a fine of $1,790 and 150 days in county jail. The 150 days can be finished in any form decided by the sheriff.

The witness was present in court to express her disagreement with the misdemeanor resolution being offered. She started, “As I stand here today, I’m feeling angry, confused, disappointed.”

She continued, “I’m angry that this is the reality for people who experienced violence and trauma like I have. I am disappointed because everyone in this room knows that this man is getting a sweetheart deal.” The witness then described the misrepresentation and injustice many people in her situation feel.

“People are being let down by the system, because when they make a choice to get help, and fight for themselves, their offenders are getting off the hook…all we hear is that you have to report it, but now I feel like I shouldn’t have because I have nothing now and he has everything,” she added.

She argued, “I have heard this man is a model citizen and that he’s trying to contribute to society. But what about everything we know about abusers? Why does the system act in the opposite way of the research around domestic violence. You don’t know what my life was like behind closed doors.”

Judge Peter Williams acknowledged the witness’s statement and informed her of his appreciation for her relaying the information because it “helps add context to the charges.”

He then turned to the accused and told him “I hope you heard all that too. It [the statement] was clearly heartfelt and the victim meant what she said there, that was clear to this court.”

Lastly, the judge stated, “I appreciate the statement from the victim because it informs the court as to the actual things that happened as opposed to just what was set forth in the documentation and that’s in the record now.”

The terms of the plea deal were eventually accepted by the accused.

If there were to be any violation of the conditions in the span of three years, the accused would end up in jail for up to one year and be fined $10,000. A payment plan was set up for $100 a month including a $300 fine for any payment missed.

In light of the plea agreement all remaining counts except for the one misdemeanor have been dismissed. The accused will also be prohibited from owning a firearm for life. The firearm which was previously confiscated from the accused was also ordered to be destroyed.

About The Author

Citlalli Florez is a 4th year undergraduate at the University of California, Berkeley. She is currently majoring in Legal Studies, Chicana/o Studies, and Art Practice. She intends to attend law school in the future with the purpose of gaining skills to further serve her community.

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