District Attorney’s Office Attempts to Increase Bail – Judge Torpedoes Request

By Citlalli Florez

MODESTO, CA – Assistant District Attorney Jesus Mendoza appealed to the judge here in Stanislaus County Superior Court Friday to increase the bail to $50,000 for an accused facing felony charges.

But the judge, in the end, disagreed, saying anything more than the original $25,000 would make a difference.

“Initially (the accused) bailed on $25,000 but solely on a felony hit and run leading to great bodily injury or death. But based on further investigation into the case, we determined that (the accused) was involved in a speed contest with three other vehicles at the time of collision.”

According to the ADA, the accused was going 94 miles an hour in a 35 mile-per-hour zone. The District Attorney’s office then chose to change the charge to vehicular manslaughter. The bail schedule would therefore call for $50,000 bail.

The defense argued,  “I don’t believe there’s actually been a change in circumstances. My client was released on the bail. There’s no indication that he poses a threat to the community. He hasn’t done anything that…this isn’t based on something that has occurred since the incident when he was released on bail.”

He continued, “I fear that this is one of those things where the People want to amend the charges—you’re putting us in a situation where any time the People decide they want to amend the charges between the point bail is issued and bail is made, they can suddenly demand a bail change.

 “It’s one thing to say they want to do this after a prelim, it’s another thing to say they want to do this anytime that they decide they charged incorrectly. I don’t feel this is actually a change in circumstances,” the defense noted.

According to the prosecution, a black box was pulled from the vehicle to determine speed and there is also surveillance video the ADA said that seemed to suggest a speed contest. The ADA stated “there has been a change in circumstances.”

Judge Ruben Villalobos stated that bail was posted in July of 2022. It was also revealed that there was no subsequent conduct by the accused which could lead to change of bail.

The judge continued, saying “the court also notes that bail schedule is meant primarily for jailers to determine the appropriate amount to release based on the agreement of the superior court and, secondarily, it’s to promote uniformity between the bench.”

“The bail schedule doesn’t factor in unknowables…from July 13, 2022, to today, $25,000 bond was a sufficient amount of bond to assure his presence here in court and secondarily to protect society. The court doesn’t see how $50,000 would achieve that goal any more than $25,000,” said the judge.

Judge Villalobos then added he believed $50,000 stacked on top of the $25,000 would be a stretch, therefore the request was denied.

June 16 is the next hearing set by the judge for this case to “get settled.”

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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