Judge Reassures Petty Theft Accused Decade-Old Charges Dropped If…


By Ivan Villegas

WOODLAND, CA – An accused was hauled—actually he appeared by Zoom—into Yolo County Superior Court this week on a warrant after nearly a decade since they failed to appear in court on a retail petty theft misdemeanor case.

The accused discovered that now, despite their non-appearance, all they have to do is take an online course to have the charges dismissed.

The accused did ask, “The only thing I would ask, other than thank you guys for everything, would there be any way to actually resolve it faster?”

Judge David Reed simply recommended the accused be “diligent and work hard, push yourself.”

The accused was originally charged with retail petty theft and failure to appear after a written promise to appear, both misdemeanors. Charges were filed against the accused in late 2013, almost 10 years ago.

Judge Reed then asked Deputy District Attorney Laura Columbel if this was a case with a diversion program offer.

“It is, your Honor,” DDA Columbel answered, and explained that for this case they would need to complete an online course, and upon completion, the case would be dismissed.

Judge Reed asked the accused, “Are you interested in that?”

The accused agreed, and Judge Reed explained two review dates would then be set, one in four weeks and one in six months.

The first review date would be for the judge and deputy DA to verify the accused has enrolled and started the online course and the second date would be to verify if they completed the course.

Once Judge Reed finished explaining this, he released the accused on their own recognizance (no bail required), and a promise to appear for future court dates.

DDA Columbel stepped in, noting, “And before [the accused] goes I do have a number if you want to call our office to get in contact with the [diversion] program.”

The accused again asked for a way to get the case dismissed faster, noting they were brought back to court after nearly 10 years passed from their initial court appearance.

“The reason I found out about this is because I ended up getting a job that looked this far back into even seeing this [case]. And this happened when I was in school and I had moved from the area so I didn’t know it existed,” the accused said.

Judge Reed then reassured the accused this case would be dismissed upon speedy completion of the online course.

“Some people are able to get everything done by their first review date…if you are diligent and work hard, push yourself,” the judge suggested.


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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