Homeless Man Asks Court to Move Sentencing to 2023 to Find Secure Housing; Judge Urges Deal but Agrees to Delay Sentencing

By Michael Apfel

MODESTO, CA – The defense urged Stanislaus County Superior Court Judge Carrie Stephens to grant an additional court date in January of 2023 to resolve a felony possession for sales of methamphetamine case, arguing her client needed time to find secure housing before he agreed to reach a deal with the prosecution.

On June 23, 2021, the accused allegedly committed a felony by possessing methamphetamine for sale in violation of California Health and Safety Code.

Vita Palazuelos, the Deputy District Attorney, submitted his case for a ruling, prompting Judge Stephens to ask defense counsel what specific obstacles to settlement there were.

“[The accused] is currently homeless,” said the defense attorney. “The offer in this case would be a plea to the felony for credit for time served, and he would be placed on two years felony probation. He has a job already, and he’s trying to gather funds so he can obtain consistent housing.”

The defense argued she planned on eventually agreeing to a deal with the prosecution, but she was concerned the consequences of a deal would be best dealt with by the accused at a time when he had a reliable living situation.

“He expects that it is going to make being on probation easier rather than being on transient formal probation, which has a different reporting schedule,” said the defense attorney.

She added, “If he had a steady, consistent residence, he would have to report between the first and the fifteenth of each month. I know that when a person is transient, they have different reporting, so having him in a stable living residence is going to make it so that he’s successful on probation.”

Judge Stephens expressed sympathy for the defense’s arguments, but asked the defense if a plea deal could be reached that day.

“Moving forward, I would say that is not a waste of today’s appearance. I may feel more comfortable then putting it towards January,” said Judge Stephens.

The defense agreed those terms were acceptable, entering a no contest plea in exchange for two years formal felony probation and a $205 crime lab fee. Judge Stephens waived the accused’s $615 drug program fee due to the accused’s inability to pay, with sentencing in January.

About The Author

Michael Apfel is a second year at USC majoring in Legal Studies and minoring in Sports Media Industries. He plans on law school after his undergraduate studies looking to work in social justice.

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1 Comment

  1. cynthiacohen

    Really dishonest and biased judge. She lied about the prior judge who handled my case because she dismissed his judgements without evidentiary basis. She ignored his precedent just to achieve the result she originally had in mind. Cherry picks evidence to support her preconceived ideas.

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