By Leila Katibah
MODESTO, CA – During an early case management hearing here in Stanislaus County Superior Court Monday regarding a felony drug possession for sale case, Deputy Public Defender Amy Kennedy alleged the prosecution inappropriately included a “Watson advisement” as part of the plea deal for her client.
The accused, Rudy Ruiz, pleaded no contest to the felony of possession for sale of controlled substances.
Judge Shawn Bessey asked Deputy District Attorney Aurora Maddocks to provide a factual basis for the plea deal, and she stated that “on Jun.17 2021, while he was being arrested for outstanding warrants, a search upon his person…found a useful amount of fentanyl and heroin.”
DDA Maddocks added, “Death is a common occurrence when fentanyl is consumed… If you provide a substance containing fentanyl to someone and that person dies as a result of ingest, you could be liable for their death.”
As part of the resolved plea deal, the District Attorney’s office stipulated the accused must sign a “Watson advisement,” which is a formal statement that most people convicted of a DUI in California must sign.
The purpose of the Watson advisement is to create a legal record that one is aware of the dangers of driving under the influence, and if one is to drive under the influence again in the future, they could be tried for second degree murder if the DUI resulted in someone’s death.
Deputy Public Defender Amy Kennedy charged the Watson advisement for a case involving possession and sale of controlled substances was inappropriate, noting she is “unaware of any relevant case law as to this specific advisement for this sort of offense.”
PD Kennedy said that “my understanding is the District Attorney’s Office’s intention in providing this advisement is to potentially use it against my client in the future…(but) my client wants to take advantage of this resolution, particularly on account of the delayed surrender date, so otherwise I submit.”
The terms of the plea deal sentenced Ruiz to 180 days in custody with credit for time already served and 24 months of supervised probation. Judge Bessey warned if he were to violate the terms of his probation, he could serve up to four years in prison.